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Ralph Klein has gone and it is time to retire Ralph's World. Thanks to all of you who have supported this venture by contributing material and through your comments. It has been fun.

Should we get another blog underway? Let me know your thoughts by e-mailing me at johnnyslow@gmail.com.

John Slow
January 1, 2007

Monday, May 10, 2004

AGENT OBERG'S DEMAND AND DATA DEPARTMENT 

Edmonton Journal May 9/04 “PROVINCE PLANS NEW TESTS FOR FAILING STUDENTS.”

Now why in the name of everything human and decent doesn’t that headline read “PROVINCE PLANS EXTRA TEACHER SUPPORT FOR FAILING STUDENTS.”

Demanding cold number results from students without providing support to the learning process is just plain discouraging and destructive of childrens’ futures as learners.

Let me illustrate.

Over breakfast in a family restaurant I observed a girl child about five years old striving valiantly to learn the skill of eating like the adults around her.

Using knife and fork in her small hands she’d already been successful in cutting loose a piece from the the pancake on her plate.

I’m sure I was the only adult in the place who saw what happened next. She might as well have not existed for all the attention she was getting from the adults at her table.

As soon as she began to carry the food from plate to mouth that slippery piece of pancake started falling from her fork. First it landed back onto her plate and then onto the napkin beside her plate.

But this eager learner didn’t give up. I watched with admiration as she tried at least three more times to develop a skill that’s as complex for a four year old as learning to drive is when you’re sixteen.

Finally though, in frustration, she picked the food up with her fingers and popped it into her mouth.

Suddenly this child, who had been totally ignored up to that point, had the undivided attention of the whole table full of grownups.

I couldn’t hear their words, of course, but I watched this child bow down and shrivel up like a beautiful wee flower in the cold wind of adult disapproval. The age-old scolding about not eating with her fingers was undoubtedly being administered.

Now multiply this child’s story by the hundreds, possibly even thousands and we can see, if we will, how Klein’s agents in the field of education have, for more than ten years, already set countless Alberta children up for failure.

Demanding that children pass tests set by adults who haven’t a clue what it takes for each individual to prepare for life in today’s world virtually guarantees that a proportion of them are going to feel the disapproval of the adult world by being assessed as failures.

Agent Oberg’s relentless demand for test results not only continues but it even intensifies while his department constantly invalidates and undercuts those who are actually involved in supporting each individual child’s learning process.

Even while it plays pretend games around school funding the so-called Learning Department increases pressure for data to boast about and impress their corporate and commercial sponsors.


The very first thing Klein’s agents did some ten years ago was attempt to totally withdraw resources from the Province’s five year olds.

Today countless children and the schools themselves have never recovered from having resources vital to their learning denied to them.

Attitudes and basic learning skills not developed in early childhood can never be fully recovered. No matter how much remedial attention is given later it is always too-little and too-late.

Kindergarten classes today in many city schools are still more crowded and have fewer human resources than ever before.

So Klein’s agent’s first step was to deprive the Province’s schools of financial and human resources .

The next step has been to mount a public relations campaign designed sell the majority of people the corporate and commercially sponsored idea that the job of the schools and the children in them is to pass tests and make marks.

Under agent Oberg’s born-again “Learning Department” pressure is coming down from the top on students and teachers alike with the implied threat of further censure and deprivation if they fail to produce test data.

Even School Boards, goaded on by narrow focused and money driven outfits like the Frazer Institute, fall into line by boasting about marks rather than publicly congratulating teachers on the quality of learning they are promoting

Oberg's agency hasn’t yet publicly demonstrated any ability to understand and assist Teachers and children in the processes of learning that must include time for trial and error, mistake and correction.

Instead this badly misnamed Department of Learning cooks up curricula and demands it be taught even while withholding the text books and training needed for new courses.

It’s time we citizens stopped allowing a heartless, soulless propaganda-driven government through its Department of Demand and Data to treat our schools as the test passing and number producing tools of an increasingly arrogant and boastful political party.

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