Thursday, February 7, 2013

In Which I Ignore the Curriculum

When we left off yesterday, I told you how I was cited by my supervisor at UCN Thompson for not following the curriculum. But no one would ever tell me how I had deviated. When pressed the college finally (five months after I was fired) provided me with the following five instances of my transgressions:

“Specific situations which were provided to Mr. Green regarding examples which were deemed to be difficult for the students to relate to were: determining the height of a smoke stack, the slope example, trouble-shooting a circuit, control for electric water heaters, and use of complex trigonometry"
Let us then continue with the second installment of my letter of response to the College, which I circulated to college staff a year after I was let go:

That's it. Five instances. Which are really only three, because the "use of complex trigonometry" only occured when we did the smokestack project, and "trouble-shooting a circuit" occured during the exercise on control of electric water heaters. With all the outrageous things I supposedly did on the job, they can only come up with three specirfic instances where I supposedly deviated from the curriculum. Two of them occured before Christmas, and one of them after; I will return to the significance of that distribution later. But first I want to point out something odd: two of the three incidents in question refer to projects I led outside the classroom.

Why do I find that significant? Because it illustrates a rigid mindset among my colleagues: the notion that a math teacher is someone who sits in front of the class and hands out worksheets. Yes, I did that too. Sometimes. But of all the terrible things that they might have accused me of, the specific instances that actually make it into my letter of dismissal are, for the most part, nothing more than projects done outside the traditional classroom setting. Little things, hour here and an hour there. So just what were these exercises and why were they so offensive?

The first one was the smokestack project, which was about two weeks into Level Two Carpentry, in early November. I noticed that in the shop, Murray was teaching them how to use transit levels, which interested me because I had never used them myself. These were beautiful instruments with telescopic sights and vernier protractors on two axes. When I saw Murray teaching them how to read the verniers, it occured to me that it would be a nice exercise to go out into the parking lot and take sightings of the Inco smokestack, about a mile away...
When we return, we'll see how this story played itself out.

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