‘It was refreshing to see a feature focusing on the good things that are happening in Canadian schools. Thanks fOr ShOWCaSing the pOSitiVe.

KAREN IRVINE October 6 2003


‘It was refreshing to see a feature focusing on the good things that are happening in Canadian schools. Thanks fOr ShOWCaSing the pOSitiVe.

KAREN IRVINE October 6 2003


‘It was refreshing to see a feature focusing on the good things that are happening in Canadian schools. Thanks fOr ShOWCaSing the pOSitiVe.


Learning new ways

Thank you for reporting on some of the fabulous programs that are finally being accepted into the educational mainstream (“The ABCs of classroom fun,” Cover, Sept. 22). As a parent of a child who had great difficulty being understood in the rigid teachings of the “back-to-basics” curriculum, I felt helpless as they tried to tell me that my six-year-old needed a behavioural modification drug because he wasn’t fitting in. Feeling that I had nowhere else to turn, I home-schooled him for a year in order to rebuild the self esteem of this bright little boy and had testing done that showed he was gifted in some areas but unable to express himself in writing. Riley went back into the school system last year, into a pilot program called SAGE (Scholastics, Arts and Global Education), and is now recognizing his potential, getting good grades and developing a love of education.

Diane Shamchuk, Ancaster, Ont.

It was significant that “The ABCs of classroom fun” featured art education and computer education. Both enable students to engage in authentic learning. They combine head and hands in ways that make sense to students, becoming catalysts to keep them in school. Unfortunately, those subjects, along with others including physical education, design and technology, and home economics, flourish best when special funds are available. At other times they are given less prominence or even cut from the curriculum. And we wonder why the dropout rate, especially for boys, remains stubbornly high.

John Gradwell, Beaconsfield, Que.

The debate over technology in the classrooms has been setded in the Studio Program at Central Technical School in Toronto. Thanks to visionary leadership, we were able to install a modest, but unique, digital audio facility in the school. The result: in this inner-city technical school, young people who don’t enjoy many advantages in life have consistently created original music that has been hailed as the best of its kind

in the country. Without this modest investment, all of this fine art and the wonderful message that these young people speak would be lost.

Steve Lashbrook, Head of Performing Arts,

Central Technical School, Toronto

Lunch bag letdown

“Lunchroom bedlam” (Cover, Sept. 22) astonished me. When I was a child, it was a given that one parent would be at home at noontime to provide love, guidance and

Human shield I How

one man’s traitor can be another’s patriot

Jonathan David Makepeace, an American living in Montreal, feels Milwaukee resident Ryan Clancy was misguided in travelling to Iraq to act as a “human shield” during the war (“ ‘I’m terrified about what is happening to my country,’ ” Voiceover, Sept. 22). “He is lucky to be alive,” writes Makepeace, “and even luckier not to have been charged with treason.” Other readers, including William Emigh of Victoria, admire Clancy’s stand. His “ideals shine with the kind of illumination this world needs,” writes Emigh, “and it is good to be able to say, God bless Ryan Clancy’s America.”

lunch. Children who had to “brown bag” were in the minority, and their parents were often considered to be abrogating their basic duties. Yet your writer refers to “today’s kids” packed by the hundreds into school gymnasiums for lunch and philosophizes “about what makes a caring environment.” A caring environment is the fundamental responsibility of parents, not schools or governments.

Richard Lambert, Victoria

When I questioned my eight-year-old daughter about why most of her lunch returned home each day untouched, she described the situation in her school: no room to eat, dirty floors to sit on and not enough time to consume even the small portions we were sending. I stopped in one day during a Lriday pizza lunch. The article “Lunchroom bedlam” described the situation out to a T! Would it cost so much to have these children eat lunch at their desks, instead of on the gym floor? I’m sure parent volunteers could supervise, because we sure wouldn’t want the teachers to lose the hour in the staff room complaining about the poor pay and conditions in the job that they chose as a career. T. Lindsay, Calgary

Liberia’s tragedy

Alexandre Trudeau’s descriptions of the difficulties involved in simply moving about the war-ravaged countryside are compelling and scarcely imaginable to me in my comfortable Western life (“Young and very deadly,” Liberia, Sept. 22). Sadly, knowing more, I now fear more. The future is bleak in any region heavily populated by young people who know nothing but war.

Jayne Barnard, Calgary

What does it say about society when we will provide teenagers ready access to guns, but not to the necessities of life? Maybe the international community can limit the violence in Liberia if it asks the boys to trade in their guns for food and for the tools to grow their own food and restore their society. Sabrina Alton, Ottawa

Letter writer Olena McCallum’s statement about Alexandre Trudeau, that exposing himself to the dangers in Liberia was not “worth it,” struck a nerve (“Counting our blessings,” The Mail, Sept. 22). I have worked as an international relief worker in a couple

of countries in conflict and turmoil over the past three years. Yes, on the surface it defies logic to enter a conflict zone, but it has been worth far more than words can explain. If it were not for people like Trudeau, how would these stories reach the outside world? How would all the countless victims caught in the middle of these conflicts be given a voice? Without the public’s attention being drawn to these tragedies, there would be no outrage, no justice for the victims and no hope for a peaceful resolution. I salute this man’s courage and determination to bring this story to the world.

Allan Aoyama, Vancouver

The Habs’ golden age

Having lived in Montreal during the heyday of the Montreal Canadiens, I found that Ken Dryden’s reflections stirred many memories for me (“The new game,” Excerpt, Sept. 22). One unique experience for ajewish Montrealer following the Canadiens was to sit through Passover Seders around Stanley Cup playoff time with a television close by so we could watch the Canadiens while we were busy telling the story of the Jews leaving Egypt.

Irwin Corobow, Winnipeg

Ken Dryden is an absolute Canadian treasure. Well-read, well-spoken, he thinks and feels deeply about many issues inside and outside hockey. We are blessed that he has now chosen to lean on his pen instead of his stick Ron DeBoer, Kitchener, Ont.

Art attack

Maclean’s notes the passing of Hitler sycophant Leni Riefenstahl, calling her propaganda films “art” (Passages, The Week, Sept. 22). I think it’s important to recognize that a commissioned advertisement promoting and glorifying hate, lies and thuggery is not art. Her work was skilled, fastidious, creative malevolence.

Mendelson Joe, Emsdale, Ont.

Out of power

The interview with Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie (“ ‘Yukon is a brand’ ” Q&A, Sept. 15) says that Fentie “decided to capitalize on the growing unpopularity of the ruling NDP and defected to the pro-

My heart has been breaking as I watched Christians being

targeted as closedminded hatemongers

development Yukon Party in May 2002.” In fact, the NDP was the official opposition at the time Fentie moved to the Yukon Party. Floyd McCormick, Deputy Clerk, Yukon Legislative Assembly, Whitehorse

Faith-based response

My heart has been breaking these last few weeks as I have watched Christians being targeted in the letters section as closedminded hate-mongers. That is not who we are. Unfortunately, there is always a remnant of radicals who take things to the ugly extreme, and the media seem to always pay great attention to them. The source of our belief is the Bible, and it clearly states that homosexuality is a sin, just as hating your brother is a sin. Sinners (including ourselves) enter our churches every week. We don’t hate the sinners, and if we did, our churches would be empty. I am disturbed at the ignorance of those who are mudslinging faithful Christians for having the fortitude to stand up for what their faith requires of them.

Jeffrey A. Johnston, Brampton, Ont.

Tim Pettipiece says it seems that “conservative Christians” fear that the survival of Christianity, of Canada and human society, is threatened by impending Liberal legislation (The Mail, Sept. 22). Christians are not fearful people and they are not in Ottawa trying

to get government to do something; they are in the trenches putting their faith into action. I know scores of Christians who have given up a life of comfort because they are passionate about helping people in need. Many of the voices being heard in opposition to same-sex marriage are from thoughtful, educated people who know from history that not everything that looks like progress truly is a step forward.

Ron Goerz, Abbotsford, B.C.

I was disturbed to see a number of letters to the editor that seem to lump all churches together in opposing same-sex marriage. My own church, the United Church of Canada, has been pushing for legal recognition of same-sex marriage for several years. We see this as a way of following Jesus’s instructions to love one another and to avoid judging one another.

Rev. Keltie van Binsbergen, Whitehorse

Sean Newman, in his letter to the editor (The Mail, Sept. 22), expresses his pleasure at findings that it is basically older, lesseducated and poorer people who disapprove of gay marriages. This is good, he says, because “it’s nice to know that closed-minded people are a dying breed.” If his attitude is truly reflective of younger, better educated and more successful Canadians, then intolerance and prejudice are alive and well in Canada.

Harry Kruisselbrink, Smithers, B.C.