Category Archives: safety

Proposed Health Curriculum


Students need to understand the role their behaviour plays in supporting their health and other peoples’ health; they need to know that getting sick happens to everyone and doesn’t always require a visit to the doctor; they need to know how to do simple nursing at home so that people in their care do not get sicker; they need to know what kinds of symptoms require a doctor’s care or even a visit to the hospital.  This is why I advocate teaching First Aid and basic nursing skills such as ways to reduce fevers without resorting to drugs,  appropriate foods to feed patients with stomach bugs or colds, how long a patient needs to rest, stay home, take it easy and what the signs are of severe problems which require help.

I am not advocating that students be trained to be medical professionals but they should be trained to have sufficient knowledge and skills to care for themselves and others and be able to ask reasonable questions about health issues.  Part of growing up should be about caring for other people as well as oneself.  An understanding of the differences in infants and the elderly from the regular population in their health needs is vital.  An educated population could reduce the burden on hospitals and medical professionals.

WHAT IS WELL?

– HOW TO KEEP THE BODY IN GOOD TRIM FOR DEALING WITH BUGS AND ACCIDENTS:

Diet – what kind?

Exercise- what kind? How much?

Sleep – its importance and how much

Main health effects of sleep deprivation (See ...

Main health effects of sleep deprivation (See Wikipedia:Sleep deprivation). Model: Mikael Häggström. To discuss image, please see Template talk:Häggström diagrams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dealing with stress

Hygiene – both mental and physical eg.

Person washing his hands

Person washing his hands (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

hand washing after using the toilet and before eating

The importance of friends

The social self.

The social self. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vaccinations

– how they work

– Dangerous myths about vaccinations

Helmets for cycling

– Proper use

– Rules of the road for cyclists & cars and pedestrians.

– Defensive cycling

Safety – risk appraisal and safe behaviour

– Alcohol

– Cigarettes

SEXUALITY:

Menstrual cycle

Relationships

Male & female genitalia

Well Baby Check up

Well Baby Check up (Photo credit: BenSpark)

Conception

Pregnancy

Birth

Breastfeeding & alternatives

Contraception

STDs

Menopause

– WELL BABY CARE

Senior Strutters March Show

Senior Strutters March Show (Photo credit: Old Shoe Woman)

– ISSUES IN AGING SUCH AS:

Age Wave

Age Wave (Photo credit: jurvetson)

Maintaining physical and mental health

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular Disease (Photo credit: GEEKSTATS)

– Through exercise, diet, participation in the community

– Planning finances for retirement

– Keeping the person living independently as long as possible

Weakening immune system

Loss of bone and muscle strength and ways

Gym Free-weights Area Category:Gyms_and_Health...

Gym Free-weights Area Category:Gyms_and_Health_Clubs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

to reduce it.

Sleeping problems

Elder abuse

MENTAL HEALTH

Dealing with stress

Preventing stress

Good stress

Kindness and compassion as elements in maintaining good health

– WHAT IS SICK?

– HOW THE BODY DEALS WITH ILLNESS – anti-bodies

– Fever

– Fatigue

– SYMPTOMS OF COMMON PLACE ILLNESSES:

Colds

Stomach bugs

Influenza (flu)

Cold/Flu/H1N1 symptom chart

Cold/Flu/H1N1 symptom chart (Photo credit: Kevin Baird)

Viruses

Headaches

Infections

Differences in symptoms and appropriate treatment for the elderly and infants

– TREATMENT OF COMMON PLACE ILLNESSES:

Role of the caregiver in keeping a patient comfortable

Rest – what is it?

Fluid – what kind?

Diet – what kind?

Cold sweat...

Cold sweat… (Photo credit: squishband)

Observation – fever, rashes, behaviour, vomiting, diarrhoea symptoms

Over the counter medication such as acetylsalicylic acid, ibuprofen and acetaminophen, their use, minimum & maximum doses, cautions on use

Symptom suppressors such as over the counter cough and cold medication & how and when to use them

– HOW TO PREVENT INJURIES

Cycling Oxford

Cycling Oxford (Photo credit: tejvanphotos)

Safety on the road

Cleaning up spills

Tidying floors

Understanding which chemicals are dangerous and how to find out if they don’t know.

Storing chemicals and medications appropriately

Fire and scalding prevention

Using and storing knives

Water safety

– SYMPTOMS OF COMMON PLACE INJURIES:

Scrapes

Sprains

Cuts

Bruises

Breaks

English: A typical examination room in a docto...

English: A typical examination room in a doctor’s office. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

bites

Drowning

FIRST AID FOR THE ABOVE

– WHEN TO CALL THE DOCTOR & HOW TO HANDLE A VISIT TO THE DOCTOR’S OFFICE

Bring information about medicines

A clear description of symptoms – the fine art of taking and using notes

Health card

Patience

A child and adolescent’s right to confidentiality – how much, under what circumstances and at what age

– WHEN TO GO TO THE EMERGENCY:

Bankstown Hospital Emergency Room

Bankstown Hospital Emergency Room (Photo credit: redwolfoz)

Bleeding

Breathing

Unconsciousness

High fever (what is a high fever?)

Pain – prolonged or fierce

– & WHAT TO EXPECT

Hospital expectations such as:

bringing health cards

washing hands

wearing a mask for cold symptoms or coughs to prevent spread

First contact

Triage

Waiting times

A child and adolescent’s right to confidentiality – how much, under what circumstances and at what age

– DISEASES FREQUENTLY CAUSED BY LIFESTYLE:

Diabetes 2

Heart and stroke

What scientists call "Overweight" ch...

What scientists call “Overweight” changes with our knowledge of human health (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Obesity

Addictions

Tooth decay and loss

Emphysema

COMMON CHRONIC DISEASES, PROGRESSION AND TREATMENTS:

Diabetes 1

Asthma

Acne

Emphysema

Cancer

Migraines

MENTAL ILLNESS, SYMPTOMS & COMMON TREATMENTS

Explanation of common terms used to describe mental illness such as:

psychotic,

paranoid,

1212mentalhealth-RW

1212mentalhealth-RW (Photo credit: Robbie Wroblewski)

phobia

MOOD DISORDERS

  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • Dysthymic Disorder
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Suicide

SCHIZOPHRENIA

ANXIETY DISORDERS

  • Panic Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Social Phobia
  • Agoraphobia
  • Specific Phobia

EATING DISORDERS

ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER (ADHD)

AUTISM

PERSONALITY DISORDERS

Family doctor

Teacher

Support groups

ETCETERA

Explanation of terms bandied about the educational system such as ADD, ADHD, intelligence, autism, learning disability and how they affect a person’s learning and education.  Treatments.

English: Ritalin (Australian packaging)

English: Ritalin (Australian packaging) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Explanation of interaction of physical and mental illness, drugs and physical and mental illness.

Explanation of alternative treatments such as:

Massage on the RM Elegant

Massage on the RM Elegant (Photo credit: yachtfan)

Acupuncture

Chiropractic

Massage

Physiotherapy

Biofeedback

Discussion of drug use: over the counter, prescription, illegal and naturopathic and the role of the pharmacist in ensuring that the appropriate medications are prescribed.

Pharmacy Rx symbol

Pharmacy Rx symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Discussion of commonly prescribed medications, how they work and how to use them effectively:

eg Antibiotics

Antidepressants

Antivirals

Analgesics

Antipyretics

Anti-inflammatories

Antihistamines

Examples of curriculum, including the health curriculum (from Ontario’s ministry of education) that could integrate with or already cover the proposed health curriculum. 

Health Curriculum Grades 1 to 8

Healthy Eating.

Personal Safety and Injury Prevention.

Substance Use, Addictions, and Related Behaviours.

Growth and Development

Integration of Mental Health

Grade nine and ten science

A1.4 apply knowledge and understanding of safe practices and procedures when planning investigations (e.g., appropriate techniques for handling, storing, and disposing of laboratory materials [following the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System-WHMIS]; safe operation of optical equipment; safe handling and disposal of biological materials), with the aid of appropriate support materials (e.g., the Reference Manual on the WHMIS website; the Live Safe! Work Smart! website)

A1.8 analyse and interpret qualitative and/or quantitative data to determine whether the evidence supports or refutes the initial prediction or hypothesis, identifying possible sources of error, bias, or uncertainty

A1.9 analyse the information gathered from research sources for reliability and bias

A1.10  draw conclusions based on inquiry results and research findings, and justify their conclusions

B1.3 describe public health strategies related to systems biology (e.g., cancer screening and prevention programs; vaccines against the human papillomavirus [HPV] and measles, mumps, and rubella [MMR]; AIDS education), and assess their impact on society [AI, C]

Sample issue: Early-childhood vaccination programs have greatly reduced the incidence of certain diseases and the social and medical costs associated with them. Influenced by controversial studies arguing that there may be health risks associated with such vaccines, some parents have chosen not to vaccinate their children, which could lead to a resurgence of these potentially deadly diseases.

Sample questions: What strategies are included in public health initiatives aimed at reducing the incidence of smoking-related diseases? What impact have these initiatives had on smoking rates and associated medical costs? How have health authorities responded to the threat of West Nile virus? What effect does this response have on people’s lifestyles? How did various cultures attempt to prevent disease before vaccines were available? What impact have vaccines had on global health?

B 2. investigate cell division, cell specialization, organs, and systems in animals and plants, using research and inquiry skills, including various laboratory techniques;

B3.2 describe the interdependence of the components within a terrestrial and an aquatic ecosystem, and explain how the components of both systems work together to ensure the sustainability of a larger ecosystem

B3.3 describe the complementary processes of cellular respiration and photosynthesis with respect to the flow of energy and the cycling of matter within ecosystems (e.g., carbon dioxide is a by-product of cellular respiration and is used for photosynthesis, which produces oxygen needed for cellular respiration), and explain how human activities can disrupt the balance achieved by these processes (e.g., automobile use increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; planting trees reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere)

Sample issue: Scientists are researching changes in climate patterns as possible contributing factors to an increase in the number of smog days in Ontario and elsewhere in Canada. As the air quality worsens, people may curtail their outdoor activities, and those with respiratory problems may require medical attention, increasing health care costs.

C1.1 analyse, on the basis of research, various safety and environmental issues associated with chemical reactions and their reactants and/or product(s) (e.g., chemical reactions related to the use of cyanide in gold mining, the corrosion of metal supports on bridges, the use of different antibacterial agents such as chlorine and bromine in recreational pools) [IP, PR, AI, C]

Sample issue: Ammonia and chlorine bleach are two common household cleaning agents. How-ever, when these two substances are mixed, the chemical reaction produces chlorine gas, which is highly toxic.

Sample questions: Why is it important to understand the chemical composition of chlorinating agents used in swimming pools before using them? What chemical reactions result in acid precipitation? What impact does it have on the environment? What sources of information are available on the safety or environmental implications of chemicals and chemical reactions? Why is it important to ensure that these sources are up to date? Why is it important to understand WHMIS information, including Material Safety Data Sheets, before using any chemicals?

• recognize that communities consist of various physical features and community facilities that meet human needs;

• use a variety of resources and tools to gather, process, and communicate information about the distinguishing physical features and community facilities in their area;

• describe how people in the community interact with each other and the physical environment to meet human needs

C2.1 use appropriate terminology related to chemical reactions, including, but not limited to: compounds, product, and reactant [C]

C2.2 construct molecular models to illustrate the structure of molecules in simple chemical reactions (e.g., C + O2 ? CO2; 2H2 + O2 ? 2H2O), and produce diagrams of these models [PR, C]

C2.3 investigate simple chemical reactions, including synthesis, decomposition, and displacement reactions, and represent them using a variety of formats (e.g., molecular models, word equations, balanced chemical equations) [PR, AI, C]

C2.4 use an inquiry process to investigate the law of conservation of mass in a chemical reaction (e.g., compare the values before and after the reaction), and account for any discrepancies [PR, AI]

C2.5 plan and conduct an inquiry to identify the evidence of chemical change (e.g., the formation of a gas or precipitate, a change in colour or odour, a change in temperature) [IP, PR, AI]

C2.6 plan and conduct an inquiry to classify some common substances as acidic, basic, or neutral (e.g., use acid-base indicators or pH test strips to classify common household substances) [IP, PR, AI]P

Sample issue: Ultrasound is routinely used during pregnancy to monitor the development of the fetus. It is also used to perform amniocentesis, which screens for genetic disorders, and allows doctors to perform surgery on the fetus before birth to correct some abnormalities. However, there have been few studies on the long-term effects of the use of ultrasound.

Sample questions: How are medical imaging technologies used in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease and stroke? What types of imaging technologies are used in ophthalmology? How have they benefited people who have eye disease? How have developments in biophotonics advanced a range of surgical procedures?analyse a technological device or procedure related to human perception of light (e.g., eyeglasses, contact lenses, infrared or low light vision sensors, laser surgery), and evaluate its effectiveness.

What strategies are included in public health initiatives aimed at reducing the incidence of smoking-related diseases? What impact have these initiatives had on smoking rates and associated medical costs? How have health authorities responded to the threat of West Nile virus? What effect does this response have on people’s lifestyles?

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A practical health curriculum


Injury - face plant into the concrete floor on...

Injury – face plant into the concrete floor on our way home (Photo credit: Lee Turner)

While I am the last person to want to add to teachers’ work load, I do think it is time to teach a real health curriculum, starting in kindergarten.  We are facing difficulties with our health system and it is likely to get worse.  I have been surprised by how little people understand about dealing with minor illnesses and injuries; as our aging population increases, we will have more patients with increasing health needs.  We can’t avoid the need for medical professionals to treat serious illnesses but we can learn to recognise what is serious and what isn’t and how to reduce the load on doctors and hospitals.  People need to understand how their bodies function, especially to keep them well.  They need to know how to support their body’s effort to keep them well and how to recognise the seriousness of an illness or injury and how to respond.   And they need to know how infants and the elderly differ in their health needs.

I have done some research and discovered that much of the curriculum could be covered not only in health classes, but some science and even (economic) geography.  It would require some reshaping of the curriculum but, for example, cells are how human beings are constructed, sometimes repaired, attacked by bacteria and viruses and healed.  A biology curriculum would have to go further than just teaching cells, but the teaching of how cells operate in bodies may actually help improve retention of cell biology.

Ontario’s grade 1 to 8 curriculum is primarily concerned with making healthy choices:

Health Curriculum Grades 1 to 8

Healthy Eating.

Personal Safety and Injury Prevention.

Substance Use, Addictions, and Related Behaviours.

Growth and Development

Integration of Mental Health

This is good, but not enough.  A more thoroughly developed curriculum would empower our future citizens in taking responsibility for their own health.

I live in a city where a lot of people bicycle.  I have noticed that very few cyclists realise that they come under the same laws and regulations as cars.  There are some allowances made for parking bikes and occasionally they are allowed (the permission is posted clearly) to enter a road blocked to cars.  There are many bike lanes.

English: Graph of adult cyclist head injuries ...

English: Graph of adult cyclist head injuries versus helmet use in New Zealand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Driving a car without lights and using a cellphone while driving are both illegal here.  Recently a young woman was hit by a car as she cycled on the wrong side of the road at night without lights and while texting.  The local media did say the driver of the car was not charged but they did not make it clear how many violations this woman was guilty of.  In addition, she was not wearing a helmet.  Helmets are mandatory here for children (not adults) but many children and adults wear them sitting improperly on their heads, on top of caps or not firmly secured.  A great waste of money.

Carelessness causes accidents... Accidents slo...

Carelessness causes accidents… Accidents slow up production. – NARA – 535274 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was a kid, the police used to come to the school to talk to us about road safety – as pedestrians and cyclists.  While many of us might have ignored the advice, at least we knew that what we were doing was either dangerous or illegal.  That program no longer exists.  Fire departments have trailers designed to teach fire safety and public health nurses used to come to school to teach personal hygiene and how to use a toothbrush.  These programs not only made an impression but it broadened students’ horizons to recognise what some of the resources in their community were.

I realise that changes need to be made to the way our health care is delivered and medical professionals are taking steps to streamline care without making it less effective.  That is not my field, however.  What I am proposing is that we educate our citizenry in how to care for themselves and when they need to seek professional help.

Including mental health is perhaps not more than a gesture as treatment is

Rethink Mental Illness

Rethink Mental Illness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

available only to those are seriously ill or who have enough money to pay for care.  Perhaps a country of people who understand mental illness, believe it can be treated and are aware of what mental illness costs in productivity are might decide that mental health also needs funding.

What I propose is a curriculum starting in grade one and largely delivered by the end of grade ten. My next post will give a detailed outline of the proposed health curriculum.

Related articles

Not Something of which I Want Reminding


My only comment now is that I have been here and I am deeply upset that this kind of thing continues to happen.  As a link to this CBC article will probably eventually disappear, I am going to copy the whole article here.

Falsely accused teacher calls for accountability

Accused of abusing students, teacher spent weeks under suspicion

By Kathy Tomlinson CBC News

Posted: Apr 23, 2012 2:08 AM PT

Last Updated: Apr 23, 2012 2:30 PM PT

Read 802comments802

Teacher Susan Dowell was accused of abusing students after she challenged a boy for throwing out a banana at lunch.Teacher Susan Dowell was accused of abusing students after she challenged a boy for throwing out a banana at lunch. (CBC)
Kathy TomlinsonKathy Tomlinson

An Ontario substitute teacher who was cleared of abuse allegations is speaking out, suggesting that parents and students be held accountable for making false accusations.

“Something is terribly wrong here,” said Susan Dowell, who has taught school for 15 years. “Children who do make false allegations – parents who make false allegations – what happens to them in the end?”

The complaint against Dowell came after she told a grade five boy not to throw away an uneaten banana at lunch. Dowell was on lunch room duty, during a one-day teaching assignment at R.L. Graham elementary school, in Keswick, Ont.

“I told him to eat it…or put it back in his lunch box and take it home. His parents paid good money for fruit like that for him to eat,” said Dowell.

Dowell said the boy went home that night and complained, so one of his parents went to the school vice principal.

“The story that the parent heard and later told the administration…is that I had him go into the garbage to take out a squishy banana — eat garbage basically — and humiliated him in front of his friends.”

Dowell said the incident happened right after she had enforced classroom rules, for a group of unruly students – the boy’s friends – that morning.

“They came in with an attitude immediately…like they’re going to see how far they can go,” said Dowell. “I know enough, in a situation like this, I’m not going to get into a battle with students…so I asked them to go to the office immediately.”

Banana incident sparked investigation

The following week, while teaching at another school, she was suddenly sent home and told she was under investigation by Ontario’s Children’s Aid Society.

“I was just shocked and confused,” said Dowell. For over a week, she said, no one would tell her what she was accused of doing.

“For nine days. It feels like you’re waiting to find out a diagnosis with cancer. It’s crazy making…I was told not to speak to anyone.”

Dowell later learned that after the parent complained about the banana incident, the vice principal talked to the other students she taught that day. She said the group of unruly students she’d sent to the office had plenty of complaints.

Dowell was on a one-day teaching assignment at R.L. Graham Elementary School, when the incidents happened.Dowell was on a one-day teaching assignment at R.L. Graham Elementary School, when the incidents happened. (CBC)“Somehow all these children came up with all these incredible stories of how I had grabbed their wrists and I left red marks that apparently weren’t showing later,” said Dowell.

“Children are getting a lot more savvy these days. It used to be, ‘make the occasional [substitute] teacher cry.’ Now they know they can have you suspended.”

Without talking to Dowell, the school immediately called the Children’s Aid Society, which it is required to do by law, when there is an allegation of abuse.

“I thought I’d be treated as a professional colleague and I’d be given the benefit of the doubt and at least gotten a phone call afterwards to ask what had happened, from my perspective.”

Told to expect police

Dowell was removed from the board’s substitute teacher roster. Her union told her she might even be arrested.

“You are told police could come to your door any moment. What do you tell your family and friends? It’s a horrible situation to be in, knowing that you’re totally innocent,” said Dowell. “I knew I had never been alone with a child. I never put my hands on a child…but it felt like I was guilty until proven innocent.”

Dowell spent a month at home on partial pay, borrowing money to pay her bills, before the CAS concluded the allegation was unfounded.

The Children's Aid Society concluded the complaints against Dowell were unsubstantiated.The Children’s Aid Society concluded the complaints against Dowell were unsubstantiated.(CBC)“The Society…has determined that Ms. Dowell did not use excessive physical force with the students in her class or intentionally embarrass the student during her interactions with him in the lunchroom,” read a letter to Dowell’s lawyer from the York Region Children’s Aid Society.

“The Society is not substantiating any concerns related to the alleged use of physical force or public humiliation by Ms. Dowell, nor would the Society be concerned should Ms. Dowell return to her occasional teaching position.”

Dowell was then allowed to go back to work, but she still faces a probe by the school board, which is standard protocol when a complaint is made.

“These are separate investigations with different standards,” said Christina Choo-Hum of the York Regional School Board. “We have a much closer eye and more detailed approach to our investigation.”

Due diligence

When asked why a minor incident would lead to a full-blown investigation, Choo-Hum said, “If there is the slightest question [about a teacher] we err on the side of caution. It’s due diligence.”

Choo-Hum said no one from the school or the board would comment on Dowell’s case, because it’s a personnel matter. She said the board does not keep statistics on how many complaints against teachers it investigates, or what the outcome is.

Nadia Ciacci, president of the union representing 1800 occasional teachers in the York district, said she’s seen false complaints multiply every year, from none three years ago, to eight this school year. Ciacci said all were unfounded.

McGill University associate professor Jon Bradley has studied false accusations against teachers and said accusers who lie should be held accountable.McGill University associate professor Jon Bradley has studied false accusations against teachers and said accusers who lie should be held accountable. (CBC)“It’s devastating for teachers,” said Ciacci, who said one has left the profession as a result. “It’s important to ensure the safety of students, of course, but also to ensure the safety of teachers. The message has to get out there – that this has to stop.”

Jon Bradley, associate professor of education at McGill University, has studied false allegations against teachers. He knows one case where the teacher committed suicide. He said careers and lives are ruined, particularly for men falsely accused of sex abuse.

“It’s really a mess,” he said. “We seem to be almost afraid. We seem to be saying – if a kid makes an accusation it must be true. Kids don’t lie. That’s the first thing we say – kids don’t lie.”

He cited one case that should have been suspect from the start, because of how the nine-year-old girl characterized what happened.

“She said ‘he leered at me suggestively.’ I don’t know how many grade four students would use an expression like that.”

No consequence for accusers

He said parents and children involved in false allegations don’t face any consequences, and they should.

“What’s really sad in this is we’ve got adolescents making terrible accusations against teachers and getting off scot-free with absolutely no penalty whatsoever,” said Bradley.

Ciacci of the teacher’s union said she would like to see parents held legally responsible, perhaps through an amendment to Ontario’s Parental Responsibility Act.

“Look at the cost to taxpayers as well for the Children’s Aid involvement,” she said. “Parents need to be held accountable.”

Dowell said the group of Grade 5 students misbehaved and challenged her in class, then claimed she had abused them.Dowell said the group of Grade 5 students misbehaved and challenged her in class, then claimed she had abused them.(CBC)Choo-Hum said there is no school board policy or standards for dealing with students who make false allegations.

“Students are dealt with on a case-by-case basis [at the school level],” said Choo-Hum.

Dowell said she is confident the board investigation will also find she did nothing wrong. Regardless, though, she said she will never feel the same in the classroom.

“The next time I see a kid throw out a banana I am obviously not going to say anything. And next time I see belligerent, defiant behaviour – am I to turn the other cheek?” said Dowell.

““I feel very much I am damned if I do I am damned if I don’t.”

Why Do Students Want to Take Down Teachers


Teachers

Teachers (Photo credit: iwannt)

In a recent post, I quoted words used in a search that ended up at my blog.  I listed eight incidents of which I had direct knowledge. In each one a teacher had been the target of an attempt to take him or her down.

The first question is why.  As you probably surmised from the list, most these students want to get back at the teacher.  Usually the student didn’t get the mark desired, sometimes the student was disciplined for misbehaving and sometimes there was a personality clash.  Occasionally a student was mentally ill but usually there is an element of revenge when students set out to take down a teacher.

The second reason is because she can.   Without believing she can take down a teacher, a student’s thoughts of revenge remain a daydream, a bitching session with a friend or some complaining over supper.  Thoughts of revenge dwindle over time and the student may come to terms with the source of annoyance.

When revenge is not a reasonable option, a student has an opportunity to learn better ways to deal with perceived unfairness. Perhaps she may acknowledge to herself that the mark or the discipline were earned even if the student thought they were a little excessive.  Perhaps she may talk to the teacher about what is bothering her.  Perhaps she may enlist her parents’ help in talking to the teacher.

However, in England, the USA and Canada, there are many cases that demonstrate students can take down teacher or at the very least, make their lives hell.  And they can do it with relative ease.  How do they have that power?  Why are children able to cause such havoc in the lives of hard working, caring, decent adults?

Initially students are believed when they make a charge of sexual assault or a vague form of harassment.  This is a hangover from the days when the standard belief was that children don’t lie.  This standard was a reaction to a long period when adults refused to believe children who claimed that apparently respectable adults were molesting them.

That refusal was understandable.  Even Freud, who had at first believed women when they described early traumas of molestation and incest, was persuaded by colleagues that the women must be making it up.

1. There is some controversy as to whether Freud did indeed change his mind.  Chief proponent of it seems to be J. M. Masson in his 1984 book, The Assault on Truth.  Freud’s Suppression of the Seduction Theory.

We now realise that if a child can lie about taking a chocolate bar or other things, she can lie about more serious things.  Most children have been brought up to understand how wrong it is to lie and very wrong to lie about serious things. Unfortunately, some children tell the truth, some exaggerate and some do lie.  And some lie deliberately to hurt other people.

Because of the climate of believing children on the subject of abuse, teachers and others are often perceived as guilty until proven innocent.  Whatever happens in the courts, in the disciplinary hearings run by their employers it becomes clear that the burden of proof is on the adult to prove herself not guilty.

All of this makes teachers an easy target.  At the very least they will suffer the pain of being removed from the class while the accusation is investigated.  What more they will suffer, I can only leave to your imagination.

how to take down a teacher in the ottawa district schhol board (sic)


The title was the search engine term used by one reader who reached my site.

Wolves chasing an elk

Wolves taking down an elk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It made me start thinking about my career with this board and the number of teachers in the board I have seen targeted, or I have been told about by a colleague who saw them targeted.

Here is a partial list of those cases in no particular order.  Some were dealt with fairly; some resulted in a teacher suspension or a teacher being charged.

  1. A primary student told a supply teacher that he was going to tell the principal that he (the teacher) had taken down his (the student’s) pants.
  2.   Parents decided a junior teacher was too fat to teach physical education and were instrumental in getting her dismissed.
  3. Some intermediate girls were annoyed with their poor marks and got back at their teacher by falsely claiming that he had sexually assaulted them.
  4. Some intermediate students set up a homophobic web site and showed it to one of their teachers on the assumption that he was gay.  The parents of one of them thought the subsequent suspension was unfair.
  5. On two different occasions in the same school two different students lied about two different teachers in two consecutive years.  Instead of investigating, the principal turned each one over to the board which chose to believe the children.
  6. A teacher on an exchange on the other side of the world was called by a friend to find out if she had a good lawyer.  Unbeknownst to her, she had been charged with sexual assault by a former student and it was all over the news.  The judge eventually threw it out of court but not before she and her family had been through public hell.
  7. Thirteen parents got together in a private home to discuss a new teacher’s math program because A) she said math wasn’t her thing so she wouldn’t be running an extracurricular math program, B) she didn’t always teach from the textbook or assign lots of homework (she was an experienced math, English and social studies teacher).  The principal refused to deal with it.
  8. A gifted and imaginative grade one teacher was turned on by the parents and her colleagues in the program she taught in because she (successfully) used whole language rather than phonics exercise books to teach reading.  Her students also learned to appreciate art through an appropriately designed unit on Matisse.  One of her colleagues even withdrew her daughter from the class.  Her principal did not defend her or reprimand the colleague.  She left the program.

Unfortunately this desire is not an anomaly.  There are many students and sometimes parents who want to “take down” a teacher.  If  parents support the students or the administration does not support the teacher, the life of the targeted teacher becomes hell.  Every action, every slip, bad call, ambiguous action becomes open to the worst possible interpretation. 

Negotiating Learning: how do you get to Carnegie Hall part three


Emma’s parents are clearly in charge but they give her opportunities to make her own decisions.  They love to introduce her to new things: lambs, flying above her daddy’s head, swings, carrots, croissants and sandy beaches.  They are careful to keep the first contact with a new experience brief and pleasant. Should Emma show real signs of distress, they distract her with something else and remove the new experience.  They do, however, give her time to figure out what she thinks.  A first grimace does not mean distaste or fear.

Emma approaches most new things with enthusiastic caution.  At first contact, her face remains solemn as she assesses the taste or the experience.  Her expression upon her first taste of potato was comical. She remained serious as she ate most of it but she wasn’t unhappy.

Soon after first contact with a new experience, Emma usually starts to smile.  The potato didn’t rate a smile but it wasn’t rejected, either.  When Emma becomes comfortable with new activities, she often chuckles, sometimes in anticipation.

The local playground is designed for young children.  It has tough rubber flooring, many gentle angles and slopes, steps that are wide and go quite high, different kinds of slides and different challenges for the climbers including big nets.  There are lots of physical challenges but some for the imagination as well.  The gate opens into a large grassy field that is also toddler friendly.  Emma visits it nearly every day and here she has a lot of freedom to determine her own agenda.  For the most part, her parents follow her, reserving the right to exercise a veto.  The veto is seldom employed because usually they can negotiate a solution as they did with the swing.

Emma knew she wasn’t ready to swing solo but she does like the feeling of independence of being on the swing by herself. She isn’t ready to get on the swing and she doesn’t try but she is happy to sit on the swing with Mum’s help.  She gets to feel what it is like to be on a big-girl swing with the independence of holding on and balancing.  On the other hand, she is not anxious about falling, as she trusts her mum.

When she does fall in the course of her experiments, Emma rarely cries.  She looks up with surprise and the parent in charge usually calmly comments “That was a good bump, wasn’t it?” or “You didn’t see that coming, did you?” and they laugh together.  If a bump causes tears, then Emma gets picked up and comforted while her parent casually inspects the bump to see if needs more treatment than a kiss.  Eventually, Emma wiggles to get down and goes back to what she was doing.

Letting Emma fall is part of her education in consequences; taking risks can result in a delightful new experience or a bump.  She has to assess where the dividing line is.  Since her parents don’t intervene unless she is likely to get really hurt, she gets lots of practice in making that assessment.

So Emma often pushes herself to learn new things, but her parents also expose her to new experiences.  They support her ventures. They don’t fuss over a bit of dirt or a skinned knee.  Emma and her clothes are washable.  Emma’s scrapes and bruises heal quickly and are forgotten quickly. Usually Emma is the one who determines the pace at which she learns to do things, although, like most parents, hers can’t resist the temptation to occasionally coax her into trying something.  Who hasn’t tried to persuade a baby to take a step?

Wisely, her parents also teach her how to do things important for her own safety, such as getting down from a perch. Theirs is an approach of “if you are going to climb, you need to know how to get down safely.”  Her parents taught her to turn around and get down feet first.  When she first started climbing, they would have physically put her in the position to climb down.  Later, she heard a lot of

Turn around, Emma.  That’s it.  Now get down.”

Later comments were:

That’s not safe, please move… Thank you”

Or

Remember what happened last time you did that?”

Climbing, with the exception of climbing on cabinets and the computer desk, is not discouraged.  Her parents have always spotted Emma’s early climbs, even if she wasn’t aware of it.  However, potentially dangerous antics such as crossing the bouncing bridge require a parent holding her hand.  Since her parents don’t restrict most adventures, she accedes more readily to having her hand held.  Emma practices her balance on the bridge, but safely.

Today Emma climbs steps, kitchen chairs and other furniture with the same confidence as she walks.  While her eyes glint with mischief when she is admonished not to do something dangerous, she understands perfectly both the request and that she might get hurt doing it.  She might continue once or twice to tease her parent, but she is usually obedient. In this family, the toddler’s growth is a pragmatic and joyous negotiation between her and her parents.

The negotiation between Emma and her parents and their willingness to let her take some risks have brought her to the point where she wants to climb on the baby gym.  The task requires concentration, strength, balance, some risk-taking and confidence; she has enough of each.

Currently, the estimate of what goes into Emma’s growth would be roughly 40% nature, 60% environment or what we used to call nurture. Emma was unusually active even before she was born.  How would she have developed if her parents had not been active themselves?  Would they have responded to her need for physical activity or would she have become a little less active – or would they have met in the middle?

You often hear parents comment that their child sleeps better if they have a walk in the afternoon – or they need some quiet time after their bath and before bed to settle down to sleep.  Most parents are pretty good at figuring out what their babies need.  Most parents figure it out without thinking too much about it, too, and manage to negotiate something that works both for them and their child.  When you think about it, this isn’t really a surprise.  Parent and child is the oldest human relationship and they have been working it out for a long time.

And Now for Something Completely Different


Recently I was proud to become a founding member of Canoe Camping Ottawa.    I write articles on occasion for CCO and yesterday I started a four part article on canoe camping with kids.  I am neither an expert canoeist, nor expert at camping with kids, but I have done a lot of both.  My three children are now grown up.  The youngest is an enthusiastic  kayaker and her brothers both enjoy being active and being active in the outdoors.  One likes to hike and cycle and the other likes downhill skiing.

I mention the article because it reflects my philosophy as a parent and a teacher; children should be encouraged to learn with their mentor even if it slows things down.  Whenever possible, children should learn to do useful things and be expected to do them once they are skilled enough.  Children should take on responsibility for their behaviour and safety as they become capable of it.  A child who is raised this way will not lack for self esteem.

To read this article go to canoecampingottawa.ca

The site is on my list of random links so if you wish to check back for the next three sections, just click on the link for Canoe Camping Ottawa.  A new section should be posted each Sunday.