I have been following the opinions on Bill 115 and the resulting job action by teachers’ unions with interest since the beginning, and Harry Couling’s letter (Caught in the middle, March 8) caught my attention. Yes, students are caught in the middle – no argument there. However, the rhetoric of “using students as pawns” has been around forever, and I have to tell you: you are not pawns. You are human beings with choices, just like adults.
Co-instructional activities are great, but they are not the only way “…to develop character, critical thinking skills, social skills, and talents [and] learn first-hand the importance of teamwork, responsibility, commitment and hard work.”
Students: do you have a specific activity in mind, or a specific skill-set that you’d like to add to your resume, to prepare you, as young Mr. Couling puts it, for high school, career paths, and future ambitions? It may not be happening at school this year, but you have the choice do it anyway.
If the activities you have in mind require resources and/or adult supervision, ask around – you will be amazed at how much help you can get just by asking. Try parents, friends’ parents, and other community members. If you don’t know who to talk to, try your teachers first – they may not be able to supervise your activities, but many of the teachers I know would certainly engage in a discussion to help you brainstorm ideas, contacts and ways of securing resources.
While starting something of your own will go much further towards developing the talents and skills mentioned above than simply showing up to someone else’s party, that’s not the only way to get there. You could also approach one of the many great organizations who are constantly looking for volunteers in the community.
This conflict between the teachers and the government has been going on for six months now; who is right and who is wrong is largely irrelevant, as Mr. Couling points out. However, despite what the rhetoric would have you believe, you have a choice: you can go on believing you are victims and miss out on these experiences, or you can take the advice of an iconic brand and Just Do It.