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A Boomer’s Date?

It’s the festive party season and it’s the twice yearly fete. I”m not a party goer although I admit I like to shake out my fancy clothes and preen in front of the mirror. At least this yearly party has great appetizers and while my husband finds colleagues with whom to chat, I head for the tantalizing table of cocktails. All ready people have gathered at the oyster bar and are downing those rubbery delicacies in a variety of condiments to slip deliciously down their tipped gullets. I head for the sushi and the gigantic shrimps that are begging for the spicy sauce. Fortified by champagne, I seek my table.

My table companion is a slim man, my vintage. My inhibitions lowered, I smile and make a comment about the loud din of noise and he nods explaining he wears a hearing aid. All ready a kindred soul, I whip out my appliance from my ear so we can compare. His is a newer model that is partially hidden behind his ear; mine fits deeply into my mine. Not an introduction I might have cottoned to as an ingénue, but I am pleased to have at least discovered a topic that may pass perhaps 5 minutes of conversation before I turn my eyes towards the stunning centerpiece, the extravagant wines and the other dresses in the room.

His name is John and we both note that we are introspective types and this kind of party isn’t exactly our favoured social setting. I chortle that in spite of having a small amplifier to enhance the loudness of the voices, I often don’t hear and that is just fine.: to smile but keep the voices at bay. I begin to think that John’s name sounds familiar and his quiet demeanour reminds me of someone I once knew. My standoffish nature blurred by the drink, I begin to inquire what high school he attended. He says “McKenzie.” Encouraged I proceed, “ Did you ever belong to AZA, part of the B’nai B’rith Association which used to bring Jewish boys and girls together for parties and fund raisers?” “Yes,” he responds. I make an outrageous leap and exclaim, “ I think I knew you from a long time ago”. He politely smiles, no doubt wondering what next.

Intent on maintaining a conversation and rekindling his memory, I continue, “I think you were the first date I ever had.” He looks bemused and responds, “ I’m 69” and very very gently, offers, no doubt to preserve my dignity, “ I don’t recall, but then I don’t remember everything from back then”. We chortle a bit.

By this point, his wife is looking over at me quizzically. Undeterred with a huge sloppy grin, I boldly continue, “ OH! You never forget your first date.” In my mind I am revisiting the shy young man who arrived half an hour early and was so embarrassed, he barely uttered a word all night.

Still I go on, “ Your mother drove us to the party.”

He responds, sympathetically “My mother doesn’t drive.”

Like a roaring wave that has been set on its course that will, of course , crash on the sand, I seem unable to shake the idea that this person beside me may not be who I think he is. I do not admit I may be incorrect because I am stuck in my head that 14 year old John might have turned out to be this pleasant person who is presently sitting beside me. Albeit I am slowly recalling a different nose on the original John. Well, people break their noses in sports or sometimes past adolescent, features do change.

He is unbelievably kind in this situation, not insisting that I am a crazed seat partner who is delusional. Finally allowing the topic to drop, we ruminate on travel, grandkids, etc. and I reflect that John still possesses the same characteristics that would have attracted me more than 50 years ago: quietness, care, sincerity.

When we leave the evening, I confide this story to my husband and suddenly I remember, John’s last name. In deed, it is different to the one of my first date.The second syllable slightly similar but not matching. Oh my!!!!

How could I not have remembered that. I feel silly, ridiculous, thinking I should have turned off my hearing aid completely or stayed at the oyster bar.

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Family Reunions

We are not what I would consider kissin’ cousins. In fact, at the mention of family gatherings, I often grimace and forgo the pleasure.

Part of the reason has to do with my parents’ feelings transferred to me, that were intensified by my own anti-social attitude. So perhaps to rationalize, I have not attempted to keep in touch with most of my clan, adopting my parents’ resentment.

My father used to scorn those gatherings where the family was present. I recall my once favourite uncle’s wedding. My mother had purchased in Buffalo the most beautiful deep green velvet dress. She looked truly lovely; in my mind’s eye, the puffy sleeves and full skirt combined both high fashion and the look of a princess. Silly me in my fuzzy pink number had decided to fix my curly bangs and continued to savagely trim them to my hairline so those furry squirming buglike protrudents suggested a monk’s fringe with no framing wisps of hair to soften what was referred to as an intelligent forehead.

On that wedding day, my father was moving particularly slowly and seemed to be digging in his heels as my mother was growing more and more frustrated. There was some interchange between them and she was in tears. In their bedroom was a huge mirror to match their bedroom set and I could see from the small hallway, her crying, her eyes now reddened; the day ruined.

Likely my father had cause to want to avoid the family, but more than anything he had taken the day and spoiled it for her. After all, this was the family whose monthly “Kousins Klub” never gave any thought to the fact that a man on crutches might need a parking spot close to the host’s house. Never complaining openly, they would venture perilously through the high drifts of snow and ice to reach the Saturday night location.

His avoidance of family events was freely absorbed by me. He was no fan of most of the get- togethers with his own family, either ,although he eagerly anticipated time spent with his brother-in-law Sid from Windsor, yet the meetings were hardly familial. They focused on technology and music: the passion of both technologically-oriented men.

I see them in my mind’s eye, sitting together, heads inclined, laughing easily, talking privately. It seemed to me that Sid always had a new scheme, an idea, an adventure that captivated my father’s intellect. I imagine this jovial friendly side as a kind of boys’ club attitude, maybe what the old days were about, the endless rounds of good pals and gatherings before polio robbed my father of so much of himself.

And before all the friends fled, fearful of catching the virus.

In a word, Sid and Saul were friends, so much more than family. And If Sid were around, there was no need to call my father more than twice, my mother announcing” Saul, Sid’s here!” Meetings with Sid were so unlike the palpable resistance of attending the family parties, weddings, bar mitzvahs that bored him : no draw for my father. So I admit I embraced my father’s aversion to these assemblies, shying away from these people.

When I heard that the Rotman family was planning a reunion I was less than thrilled, hoping in fact not to have to attend. But my husband insisted, even strong arming the children to come and bring their children. In fairness, I actually do quite enjoy the presence of Howard’s cousins from Texas and Chicago who always, at their own expense and long distance had made it to our own celebrations in Toronto.

Howard’s mother was the youngest of seven brothers and sisters. In this group were the children of Ida, the black beehived, smoking sister from Buffalo. Imagine Marge from the Simpson with a husky voice and a cigarette always in her fingers, knitting needles at her side. She was a character but unlike my mother-in-law, on the day I was introduced to Ida, she looked me up and down and in her very American accent loudly proclaimed, “I like you Patty.” I warmed to her immediately. Her children as well were interesting people, amiable, friendly and accessible.

Old grievances die hard and even so many years later, the children of the dead brothers, Max and Nathan, were not in attendance at the Rotman reunion. ( In deed, they might have been purposely left off the invite list!) From my early entry into this family, I had always overheard gossip regarding the contentious one-legged Stella – who once berated my own mother when my mother-in-law’s wedding guest selection had not met Stella’s approval ( in fairness to the sharp-tongued Stella, my mother-in-law cherry-picked who she chose to invite in every family grouping); and the haughty Rosa who had remarried too soon after her husband died at an early age was often the topic of conversation. The legendary Max had assumed hero status as a well known community figure in Hamilton with athletic centers named for him. I’d been introduced to some of their offspring somewhere who remained a blur in my memory, their names Sylvia, Stewie, Debbie….

Howard contributed to the stories of his family as a happy, loving group and I had in my head the narratives of when the cousins were young and they were all babbling buds. Most strongly were his descriptions of the huts along Love Canal where this family congregated every holiday weekend year after year. Where dead fish washed up on the shore and lumps of greying tar matter rose up through sizzling sands under snaky hydro wires, sparkling in the hot sun; where the kids danced and played and cavorted avoiding the debris littered on the beach. My husband reminisces fondly about other trips to hear Michael Tilson Thomas ‘s symphony and the zoo in Buffalo where Ida lived, and her handsome dashing aviator husband. He revelled in the time spent with his cousins.

So he was looking forward to reuniting with his cousins, Marcia and Michael and Susan and Michael, and their children from the States.

As most things in life, there is nothing is without flaw, no perfection anywhere. Sadly my mother-in-law, the world’s favourite aunt would not be able to grace the reunion. Ironically 30 minutes away at Shalom Village, she was blithely unaware that the clan was even gathering. Her last home would be this care facility where she once volunteered. With dementia destroying her mind, she would not be present. There was no attempt to bring her to the party, for we worried that she might be confused, disoriented and frustrated, even angry at the people she once cherished.This would have been too much for her.

Yet her 91 year old twin attended, and in full command of her facilities, introducing her family table, she exchanged more pleasantries with us than she had ever done throughout her life. My mother-in-law even a year earlier would have shone, been the queen of the day, well loved by her nieces and nephews. The healthy twin ,obviously having had enough, announced, “Time to go. My sister ( my mother-in-law) was the party girl!”

I have to admit: it was fun. With close to 70 people, many we had not seen in years, it was an astounding. So many relations in one spot with their children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren in attendance. The feeling was not uncomfortable. It was an easy meet, people milling around, stopping to chat, introducing new additions or reacquainting. And always snippets of years gone by where forever memories had been established, laughter spilling forth at the foibles of youthful adventures or incredulity at now sepia coloured adventures shared as youth.

Sadly, as I rewrite and edit this 8 months later, my mother-in-law and one of the Michael cousins have died, passed to that nether world along with the dreams and memories that entwine our everyday existence: comings and goings, meetings and dissolutions.

Where stories take us

We begin to tell stories at an early age. At first they are a story
about self, the me, the ego of our lives as we fancy ourselves the center of the universe and so we are, the focus of our parents’ lives. We are dressed and fed and cared for and loved. So it makes much sense that our first tomes revolve around us. We are the subject of every plot whether in pursuit of crayons or finding the perfect marionette or chasing a ball into the corner and being trapped by a big dog or an insurmountable piece of furniture.

Gradually our world widens, and our stories allow in more people and maybe mom, dad, grandpa, or teasing brother is a figure in our narrative where adoring faces play a role. We think in stories as we explain and recant our lives to ourselves, speculating on where we fit, who fits with us and where our stories have occurred and grown.

Not surprisingly we are always egotistical, the first person narrator presiding as we move beyond our fingers and toes towards those at the footposts of our houses: the nannas and ooh-ooh bears who have cuddled us, but pushed us outwards exceeding the confines that have kept us safe. Bruno Bettleheim’s Uses of Enchantment explains why children are so fascinated by witches and dark deeds.

Further, in The Edge of the Precipice: Why Read Literature in the Digital Age, the author writes,

Humans, strange creatures that we are, make sense of our lives by telling stories. In the space between each day and the next, we refresh our minds by concocting the most fantastic and elaborate fictions. We spend roughly a third of our lives thus, re-arranging our scattered experiences into stories…That we do it at all is bizarre and inexplicable. But as long as we do it, we will crave stories – human stories, stories that speak to us – in our waking life. The Internet, powerful as it is, cannot change that …
(Peter Swirski in The Globe and Mail, December 21, 2013)

Those of us who are readers lust for new books that will entertain, intrigue, disturb and delight us, particularly with elements from worlds with which we are comfortable. In “What I Loved” by Siri Hustvedt (surprisingly married to Paul Aster!), she surrounds her characters who are artists or art historians in a world familiar to me. With every reference to Manet or Modilgilani I feel at home, intrigued and fascinated by the tale of two boys, the lifelong friendship of their fathers and ensuing destructive relationships. Art is integral to the story, a metaphor for real life distortions with its intricacies, shadows, personages behind and beyond the constricting frames of paintings described. Performance art in the story reminds me of Alan Kaprow and Christo’s mammoth installations such as wrapping the Reichstag in Berlin or the canopy of yellow umbrellas in California and blue umbrellas in Japan at the same time. Memories from my youth and older. So the story,for me, became a touchstone to connect with matters that matter to me.

My husband loves biographies of presidents and countries. He thinks in terms of politics, the rise, the fall, the conundrums of people who play powerful roles. For relief, he also reads fiction. He likes Wayne Johnston-unlike me, perhaps a mixture of both worlds. His interests more eclectic and wide sweeping than mine.

But art like literature if we allow it to, encourages us to transform what we know: to see things differently, from fresh eyes, as Picasso said, “To see with the eye of a child”, and perhaps, if we gaze longer, linger more thoughtfully, and dismiss what we have been told to think, we might deepen our comprehension of ourselves. AS my second grandson would chirp, ” I do it mine own self”. Baudelaire is reported to have also exclaimed, “A child sees everything in a state of newness.”

Years ago when I taught Magic Realism in my Post-colonial Literature course at Northern Secondary, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude did that for my students. They were encouraged to look once again as a child might, imagining beyond the literal.

For example, magical events in One Hundred Years continue to multiply with such events as people literally shrinking when they age so that their shoes and hats fall off doll-sized body parts; blood flows down streets where violence has occurred; young girls levitate themselves into the heavens: multiple points of inspiration where real documented actual events have occurred and impossible, fantastical happenings are intertwined. South America’s intrigues, assassinations, takeovers are represented along with the countries’ three civil wars and the infamous Banana Massacre(1929). I lingered on the steps of the actual ”United Fruit Company “ in South America, incredulous it still stood, but renamed. Marquez’s overriding theme in the book is that no imagined event can be as fantastical as those lived out in the atrocities of war and abrogation of individual rights.

In their class presentations, one student convincingly linked mathematical symbols to the structure of the novel, diagramming and explaining the metaphysical on two levels; another student concocted a series of pictures that reflected the disintegration of the Buendia(the family protagonists) house; another tied his hands together to become a visual metaphor for repression in the novel. Yet another to represent the fecundity of a couple that resulted in the proliferation of farm animals baked copious sugar cookies in the shape of pigs and horses.

Before teaching the novel I had read it and found it difficult to follow. Imagine one sentence that unwinds beyond a full page, and the density of ideas in the novel thickly translated from its original Spanish; however, working with my students back then and sharing their excitement at the miraculous wonderfully unbelievable fairytale quality of the story- based in political and social reality in South America- re-energized me to find delight and embrace the book myself. My understanding was further enhanced by the students’ work that emerged. In deed, my students taught me, often, I will admit, more than I originally knew. One of my cherished possessions remains a child’s book of pull-outs, flip-ups, colour changes and animation that four talented students gave me after their introduction in an incredible presentation.

For my students, taking their own initiatives to extend the meaning of the novel even propelled them outside of the classroom. Some contacted Amnesty International who came to our class with two representatives: one speaking quietly in Spanish explaining the perils of the para-military in Colombia, Gabriel Garcia’s birthplace. Others became involved with Street Kids International and went to Ottawa on behalf of the Colombia’s displaced and victimized youth. Thus, the book that confounds and blurs the verisimilitude of actual facts much like a fairytale had sparked a seed: a Jack and the Beanstock seed that sprouted in unlikely places breaching the confines of our classroom.

Paolo Freire a South American philosopher and educator was a leading advocate of critical pedagogy. He is best known for his influential work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. He worked with the poor, talked about “ co-creating” so that workers might have a stake and take responsibility for changing their own lives rather than accepting the theories and narratives of others. Nonetheless, he encouraged the downtrodden to see from new perspectives, tell their owns stories, extend traditional boundaries and attempt new venues to promote change. To create their own NEW stories.

Just yesterday as I again struggled with the translation of Javier Marias’ The Infatuations, I was struck by the conversation of the observer-story teller, Maria and a friend. She reflects at length in her head about absolutely everything which is sometimes pretty tedious. Yet several ideas stick with me profoundly,

…once you’ve finished a novel, what happened in it is of little importance and soon forgotten. What matters are the possibilities and ideas that the novel’s imaginary plot communicates to us and infuses us with…( Vintage,2013,p.132).

From my very first year of teaching in the Jane-Finch corridor, in a Grade 12 class when we were studying Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “Pied Beauty”, a young woman had offered,

“Maybe a weed isn’t a weed to nature, maybe it’s a flower”.

That is what a good story does, it sticks in your imagination and grows upwards, outwards, entangling and blooming unexpectedly, becoming part and parcel of your own trajectory, a thorn that pricks you, embeds in your head until, a fresh blossom erupts.

A simple story that begins and ends with you.

From letter to blog: a rant on MI in education

Weekends are lazy times to sort through newspapers and just enjoy perusing the columns. Yet barely into my ritual, I find an article that makes me burst into flames. It prompted a response to the editor.

 Sunday’s Star “Educational fads not helpful” should have made me toss the page when I read that the so-called education writer, Sacherin Maraharaj was directing his ridicule towards Howard Gardner. My thesis, “The usefulness of art in education: in and out of the classroom” called on John Dewey, Elliot Eisner and Howard Gardner as support for the importance of the visual in education. During my doctoral defence at OISE, one of the examiners referred to these three theoreticians as my educational gurus. They were and still are. Dewey’s understanding of experience, both in life and in education, is incredibly applicable and as fresh today as it was in the early 20th Century; Elliot Eisner associated with the Getty Institute and his approach to art-based (DBAE) education continues to resonate; and Howard Gardner’s research into seven multiple intelligences has provided a needed focus on individual differences. He has identified the intelligences as Visual-Spatial, Bodily-kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Linguistic, and Logical –Mathematical.

Initially outraged by Maraharaj’s statements and conjectures that Gardner’s “ multiple intelligences “ were a fad, an unsubstantiated method with little research and that all children could benefit from the same pedagogy,” I wrote in my email to the editor,

“I’m wondering what he proposes: all well-dressed children sitting with their hands folded in neat rows, all heads turned towards their teacher in a suit?”

Maraharaj maintains that Gardner himself was backtracking on his research and recanting his numerous journal studies. Incredulous, I went to The Washington Post to read for myself what Gardner was querying.

Not surprisingly, Gardner addressed the criteria and actual meaning / definition of  “learning style ” and how one “recognizes, assesses or exploits that notion”.  Gardner was actually encouraging teachers  “ (to) (i)ndividualize your teaching as much as possible. Instead (my emphasis) of ‘one size fits all,’ learn as much as you can about each student, and teach each person in ways that they find comfortable and learn effectively”(The Washington Post, October 16, 2013).

Some “backtrack”!

 I can recall my best classes, particularly in Post-colonial Literature ( see earlier blogs), where I provided a topic and the students found their own touchstones to make the subject come alive. I cherish from those teaching days several three- dimensional books carefully and beautifully crafted that document the pivotal moments of South America’s history: as a back story for Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, given to me as gifts from delighted students. As well, I treasure the memory of students who wrote their own dialogues, assuming the personas of characters in Rohinton Mistry’s novel, Such a Long Journey, and walked in their shoes, no longer  “others” looking in on the lives of people from India.

 I remember thinking how wonderful: that one young man had translated in a chemistry chart the frequencies of the rise and fall of a displaced family from a novel we were studying, comprehending in his own way the trajectories of fate and fortune. And I recall the brilliance of the group who decided to use the metaphor of a poker game to dramatize the Portuguese, Germans, Belgians, English and French’s use of the countries of Africa as chips in a bidding war. And with feelings of pride for student insight, even 20 years later, I reflect on a collaborative project that investigated female mutilation in Somalia and its connections in Toronto. Wow.

 Although I did teach, prepare and provide students with subject information and required assignments to satisfy curriculum expectations, each student played a part in his/her own deepening of the topic. That is the beauty of multiple intelligences: it honours that we are all unique and learn in a plethora of ways that makes sense to us. In classrooms where the mantra is collaboration, a varied approach to absorbing knowledge ensures that students enrich their understanding by looking from new eyes and respecting that diversity in perspectives can enhance learning. The openness of Bahtkin’s building dialectics ( in the previous blog) requires that people really hear their colleagues’ voices so that they can critic, contemplate and make  conversations/learning grow in interesting and unexpected ways. Those new revelations precipitate those “ ah-ha” moments when epiphanies erupt.

 Perhaps that is what I also love about art. If you stand in front of a painting and really look, the art begins to act on you. You will see a colour, a form, something that will begin to pique or resonate with you. Stand there longer and your conversation with the piece continues to grow. Voices in your head, your own and others, suggest a memory, a thought, a response that you did not know you had. Even the so-called polar bear in the snowstorm may make you shiver and you will imagine snowflakes conglomerating to cover the snarly bear. Or…  

 I will always regret the study during my Masters days of a museum-related class. Mini- exams were administered every Friday for 8 weeks, each in an identical format. A roister of professors presented lectures that concentrated on the decorative arts in silver, wood, glass, metal, glass and pottery, etc. What followed was a test based on 10 broken bits or shards. Our task was to identify the provenance, explain the composition of components, why they had broken, and the shattered artifacts’ usage.

 One professor thought it fair to trick us- as in presenting a replica of a 14th Century rural chair from Quebec and expecting that we neophytes would know it was an impostor. So we studied hard, or at least I did, got my A and to this day do not remember a morsel of what I had learned. 

In contrast, I have stored in my head and can recall the research I did in the same class on Cast Iron Toys ( banks, stove samples and Noah’s arks) in the early 20th century in Ontario. Maybe some of my fellow students can still identify pottery from Orange county in Ontario, its clay composition, the method of its production and why its colour distinguishes it as a breakfast bowl. I sure can’t.

 Cramming for the test obviously did not appeal to my particular “ style” of absorbing and retaining information. Fortunately I can still compare banks (some: replicas of buildings) in Ontario to those in America’s Golden Age of Toys ( some: racism in the form of animation) and even offer a few insights from my visits to a collector in Ottawa who kindly shared his information on his stash of toys with me.

 Sacharin Maraharaj considers himself an educational critic. How embarrassing he makes the mistake that many of my high students did: they quote out of context. They extract one piece of a puzzle to support their own diatribes.

Not surprisingly my letter(see below) that pointed out the flaws in Maraharaj’s analysis was not published. How ironic in the continuing wake of the Rob Ford scandal, and The Star’s constant attack, that simply misleading is allowed to persist by a newspaper high-handedly championing investigative journalism. Moral hogwash. Talk about hypocrisy-and believe me, I cannot tolerate even hearing the name of the buffoon who was voted mayor.

 Daily, we read about the efficacy of early kindergarten and the loss of its intellectual impacts by Grade 3.  I wonder if Maraharaj’s real topic was a political one to align himself or garner favour with those who support tests, scream about needless costs and lampoon creativity in education? Whether multiple choice tests reveal or substantiate “knowledge” or not, MI offers benefits for children. People who decry the expense only put the cost somewhere else- remedial and societal support programs because those who cannot read, or feel unaccepted in society may act out or on the society that has failed to educate or prepare them properly for life…I am not suggesting that early full day kindergarten will repair all of society’s issues: however, it damn well provides an excellent start upon which to build a healthier society.

We see MI theory at work in every kindergarten across the province in play centers and the play-based learning as the framework for early learning in our schools. This approach encourages children to stick their muddy little fingers into a variety of learning methods, They are engaged in an “experience” in Deweyian terms (for sure) through a multiplicity of sensual responses and intellectual stimulations in positive, practical environments supported by well trained professionals. Perhaps Maraharaj might scorn this as merely first rate daycare for people who otherwise might have dropped the kid at the neighbours. I’ld rather my kid interact than stare at the television or be tossed a video game. But again that’s me. Or forgive me if I am taking his argument out of its original context. 😉

I  truly don’t know where his argument comes from or why he more than tinkered with the meaning of The Washington Post’s meaning. As an educator, he does not do service to his readers. As a writer myself, I consider how twisting facts might grow into plagiarism or a total disregard for the validity of the work of others. For me, it’s a moral question: of how we use the ideas of others.

 When I taught, I always felt it was not so much what you taught but how you taught: that stimulating children so they want to learn and excite their interest and desire would enable them to stay curious, continue on and eventually discover what they were passionate about. Knowing the basics of reading and counting opens the doors of lifelong learning and a thirst for education. With these tools, children could go anywhere.

My grandson has been in English and French kindergartens and I have picked him up in both classrooms where at 5 o’clock there is still so much going on, that kids do not want to leave. Yesterday I walked in on pancake making for Channukah, noted kids constructing with enormous blocks, observed windows decorated with all the holidays, heard laughter, and witnessed engagement: the feel that any teacher will recognize of an excellent environment for children. I was literally knee deep in learning through play: new skills, collaboration, social adjustment, co-operation, respect for teachers and environment. What I saw, at least superficially, were well-adjusted children from diverse cultures, playing and learning.

This moment brought to mind a story that Stephen Lewis tells of his visits to Africa and how every single child he encountered has a desperate dream to go to school. This is the school I would envisage for all children, one that instigates the beginning of a lifelong process that fortifies the young and strengthens communities. We want all of our children to know they are the threads in our social tapestry, and that school is good, safe and rewarding.

If you look carefully at schools in Ontario, you will see these programs are built on Gardner’s MI theories; and truly- theory that lives in practice.

 

 

The Letter to the Editor at The Star

 

 

Sunday’s Star Educational fads not helpful should have made me toss the page when I read that Maraharaj was directing his ridicule towards Howard Gardner. I’m wondering what he proposes: all well-dressed children sitting with their hands folded in neat rows turned towards their teacher in a suit?

 

 Incredulous that Gardner would backtrack on his research and recant from his numerous journal studies, I went to The Washing Post to read for myself what Gardner was actually querying.

 

 Not surprisingly, Gardner speaks to the criteria and actual meaning / definition of  “learning style ” and how one “recognizes, assesses or exploits that notion”.  What Gardner actually says to teachers is “Individualize your teaching as much as possible. Instead ( my emphasis) of ‘one size fits all,’ learn as much as you can about each student, and teach each person in ways that they find comfortable and learn effectively.”(October 16, 2013)

 

Anyone who has taught knows this to be true.

 

Sacharin Maharaj makes the mistake that many of my high students did: they quote out of context. They give you only one piece of a puzzle to support their own diatribes.

 

To call MI an educational fad is a disservice to The Star’s readers.

 

 

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