Les ultraorthodoxes font leurs devoirs

Slow process getting to this point but the change appears to be accepted and in some cases, welcomed within the community:

Las de devoir se battre avec Québec chaque année pour le renouvellement de leur permis, plusieurs écoles juives ultraorthodoxes se sont finalement résolues à faire accréditer leurs professeurs qui enseignaient jusqu’alors sans brevet. Une première vague de professeurs s’apprêtent à obtenir leur diplôme du programme de formation des maîtres de l’Université du Nouveau-Brunswick. Une expérience qui porte des fruits, comme a pu le constater Le Devoir.

« C’est un petit miracle, résume le directeur général du Centre Bronfman de l’éducation juive, Shimshon Hamerman, en entrevue au DevoirTraditionnellement, les communautés ultraorthodoxes ne suivent pas les études laïques […]. Mais les conseils d’administration des écoles ont compris qu’ils ne pourraient pas avoir de permis — et certainement pas un permis à long terme — si leurs professeurs n’avaient pas le brevet. Ils voulaient vraiment respecter la loi. »

Par l’entremise du Centre Bronfman, les directeurs d’écoles des communautés juives ultraorthodoxes ont contacté différentes universités québécoises. Mais selon leurs dires, il était difficile d’obtenir la flexibilité requise pour ce projet, car les élèves travaillent déjà comme professeurs à temps plein dans les différentes écoles associées à leur communauté religieuse.

Shashana R., Sarah Klein et Chana Biegeleisen suivent une formation de l’Université du Nouveau-Brunswick pour obtenir leur brevet en enseignement.

Ils se sont donc tournés vers l’Université du Nouveau-Brunswick, qui offre un programme de baccalauréat en enseignement adapté aux horaires des participants. Depuis quatre ans, une fin de semaine par mois, un professeur est dépêché à Montréal pour offrir une formation intensive. Des périodes d’enseignement sont aussi prévues pendant les vacances estivales et autres congés scolaires. Les soirs et les fins de semaine, les étudiants bénéficient de formations en ligne. Ils devraient obtenir leur diplôme en juin prochain.

« Ça coûte beaucoup plus cher que s’ils étudiaient dans une université locale, mais c’est la preuve de leur engagement à vouloir se conformer aux exigences ministérielles, plaide M. Hamerman. Les professeurs payent de leur poche pour obtenir cette formation qui leur donne accès au brevet d’enseignement de Québec en vertu d’une entente de reconnaissance mutuelle entre les gouvernements du Québec et du Nouveau-Brunswick. »

Former les professeurs

Dans un petit local surchauffé du Centre des enseignants de la Torah Umesorah, sur l’avenue du Parc, une trentaine d’élèves tentent de répondre à la leçon du jour : « Quel est le rôle de l’éducation ? » Les femmes, majoritaires, sont assises à l’avant. Certaines bercent leurs nouveau-nés tout en prenant des notes. « Elle peut rester tant qu’elle n’est pas tannante », blague la maman d’un poupon de neuf semaines. Les hommes restent en retrait derrière une bibliothèque qui fait office de paravent virtuel.

Photo: Jacques Nadeau Le DevoirUne classe d’élèves au travail

« Les parents sont de plus en plus exigeants quant à l’éducation laïque que reçoivent leurs enfants, alors il faut que je sois à la hauteur de leurs attentes », explique en entrevue Avrohom Biegeleisen, qui enseigne depuis 12 ans à la Yeshiva Gedola. Sa femme, Chana, professeure et mère de 10 enfants, suit également la formation. « Ça m’aide beaucoup, notamment dans la façon d’organiser mes cours. »

Professeure à l’école des filles de la communauté Skyer, Perel Brewer affirme que cela demande beaucoup d’efforts, mais que ça en vaut la peine : « Ce qui est génial, c’est que je n’ai pas besoin d’attendre quatre ans pour mettre en application les enseignements. Ce que j’apprends ici aujourd’hui, je peux l’appliquer dès demain dans ma classe. »

Sarah Klein, qui enseigne également à la Yeshiva Gedola, ne s’en cache pas : elle est une « meilleure professeure » depuis qu’elle suit le programme de formation des maîtres. Elle bénéficie d’une « tolérance » du ministère de l’Éducation, mais elle sait que son brevet va faire une « grande différence » aux yeux de Québec. La jeune femme s’y connaît en matière d’exigences gouvernementales. Le matin, elle enseigne aux enfants de la maternelle et l’après-midi, elle travaille à des tâches cléricales, qui consistent en grande partie à remplir des formulaires pour le gouvernement en vue du renouvellement du permis.

Source: Les ultraorthodoxes font leurs devoirs | Le Devoir

Helping Immigrant Students Catch Up, Fast — It Takes A Whole School : NPR

US example of how schools facilitate the integration process:

For many immigrant students, the trauma of crossing the border follows them into the classroom — affecting their performance and ability to learn. And that’s where Michelle’s school comes in.

At Langley Park, in Prince George’s County, Md., 87 percent of students are Spanish-speaking. Out of 176 students, 24 countries are represented and 15 languages are spoken at home, not including English.

The school started last fall. So far, the school sits in temporary buildings, but the kids don’t mind it too much — unless it’s raining.
Her school is part of a larger network across the country called Internationals Network For Public Schools. It serves English language learners, or ELLs, and recent immigrants.

For students like Michelle, the problem is two-fold: Not only are they dealing with trauma, but they also belong to one of the most marginalized student populations.

According to a recent Stanford study, the achievement gap between ELL-Hispanic and white students is the largest in the context of race and ethnicity. And, the average high school graduation rate of ELLs is 19 percentage points lower than the national rate, 63 percent compared to 82.

In 1985, the network opened its first school to address that long-standing disparity. Since then, it has grown to 27 schools in seven states, including Washington, D.C.

And, it seems to be working. Last year, ELLs who attended the network’s high schools in New York City graduated at a rate 16 percentage points higher than ELL students in the city’s public schools, the nation’s largest school district.

As for Langley Park, it hasn’t had a graduating class, yet — it opened last fall — but results so far look promising. In the first class of students, 98 percent showed improvement in their English language skills.

Two talented young artists — Stefany Novoa (left), 16, and Frishta Wassl, 14 — work on self-portraits in Christine Wilkin’s art class.

LA Johnson/NPR

How does the network do it when so many other schools struggle to educate ELLs? It seems to boil down to three simple things:

Every teacher is a language teacher. Tammy Tatro, who teaches technology, says implementing English-language instruction into her class curriculum is “really hard.” But she does it by repeating herself and using visual aids to get concepts across to students.

Second, one of the network’s vital principles is collaboration. That’s why the classes are a mix of students with varying English language skills.

“They all want to lift each other up,” Tatro says. “When one fails, especially if they’re working on a team project, then they all kind of fail. So, they have to help each other.”

A third key principle, Principal Carlos Beato says: the school’s partnerships.

Christine Gilliard, a phys ed teacher, used to teach at a large high school where she had “a two-story gym and two storage closets.” Now she teaches out of a trailer-sized temporary building. “We may not have the best of everything, but we have each other,” she says.

LA Johnson/NPR

CASA de Maryland, a Latino advocacy organization, is one of Langley Park’s partners. The organization offers legal advice for students and their families. Students can also take a social justice class from CASA to learn about advocacy and their rights, depending on their immigration status.

Partnerships like this are crucial, given the extra challenges many of these students face — homelessness, separation from their parents and, of course, the language barrier. Without tending to all of their social and emotional needs, Beato explains, “we wouldn’t be getting any of the academics done.”

Most of the network’s schools employ a full-time social worker. At Langley Park, that’s Lesly Lemus. Her job is to support students any way she can as they cope with life outside school, whether it’s connecting them to community resources or just listening.

Source: Helping Immigrant Students Catch Up, Fast — It Takes A Whole School : NPR Ed : NPR

Schools are teaching values. But whose values?

Interesting trend in education and assessment, and how to measure “character:”

To formally assess children’s characters, schools between Ontario and British Columbia have begun distributing a questionnaire created by psychologist Wayne Hammond. “We’ve proven that the tool is statistically predictable,” says Hammond, owner of a Calgary-based human resources consulting firm called Meritcore. “I can tell you where your character’s at.”

The questionnaire, called the Resiliency Assessment Survey, contains 62 to 82 questions, depending on a school’s preference. Students rank how strongly they agree or disagree with statements similar to “I try to avoid unsafe things” or “I feel hopeful about my future.” The tool creates profiles of each student’s top strengths and weaknesses, such as acceptance, restraint or safety. The results belong to each school board and are used to identify at-risk students and trends within schools. “It starts to give them a round-up,” says Hammond. “Who needs resources? Who needs stretching?”

Alternative measures include the Character Growth Card, invented by American Angela Duckworth, a pioneer of the character movement. Duckworth argues that character, specifically “grit,” is the key determinant of student success. Her hard-copy questionnaire gauges attributes such as gratitude, self-control and zest (defined as approaching life with enthusiasm) by asking students and teachers to rank how often they’ve done things like “kept their temper in check” and “stuck with a project for more than a few weeks.”

A third tool comes from psychologist Mark Liston at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. His online multiple-choice survey measures 11 character strengths in as many minutes, giving students and teachers percentage scores on attributes such as wisdom, empathy and “love/closeness” (one school in Denver had to remove the questions on spirituality because it feared a lawsuit from parents). The results compare each person to “national averages” derived from 1,000 Americans. Schools pay up to $500 per student to take the survey.

A “character portfolio” is another concept of Liston’s. It presents a student’s character scores through Grades 4 to 12, paired with extracurricular and community service hours, journal entries and mentor reports, decorated with personal statements and pull quotes. Liston plans to sell a portfolio program to schools and parents, for students to use in university applications. “When kids start seeing this will help them get into a better college, they’ll start to use it,” he says. “In the past, it’s pretty much been a reference letter. We can do more than that. We must do more than that.” Even if students lie about their empathy, kindness and optimism to buff up their portfolios, Liston says, “How long can you fake it before it actually becomes who you are?”

Alarmingly, some schools are taking character scores more seriously than the researchers intended. This year, nine school districts in California will begin to incorporate character assessments into school accountability, affecting their funding. “We’re nowhere near ready,” warns Duckworth in a column in the New York Times, “and perhaps never will be, to use feedback on character as a metric for judging the effectiveness of teachers and schools.” Duckworth notes that the new measurement tools may not be accurate due to cultural biases—for example, at one school, students from Korea ranked themselves lower on all attributes—and because students hold different standards for character indicators such as “comes to class prepared.” Regardless of the limitations, the measurements threaten to become “high-stakes metrics for accountability,” Duckworth writes. When a California teacher told her that she worried the school’s low scores would mean less funding per student, Duckworth writes, “I felt queasy.”

At W.J. Mouat, character grades range from 50 to 100 per cent, and final grades appear on student transcripts. Fraser hopes to learn more about the concept of character portfolios and their use for university applications. “I think it’s fascinating,” she says. Her students are currently spending their class time publicizing orange shirt day in remembrance of residential schools in Saskatchewan and planning an Aboriginal feast. Fraser expects character education to flood into Eastern Canada as schools show quantitative evidence of its success. “This wave is here,” says Fraser. “This wave isn’t going away.”

How to teach citizenship in schools | The Economist

Good discussion of what citizenship or civics education should entail:

IN 2012 David Souter, a retired justice of the Supreme Court, argued that the greatest threat to American democracy was neither a foreign invasion nor a military coup, but ignorance about how government functions. “An ignorant people can never remain a free people,” he said, referring to Thomas Jefferson, “and democracy cannot survive too much ignorance”. People become willing to hand power to a strongman who promises to solve all their problems. “That is how the Roman Republic fell…That is the way democracy dies, and if something is not done to improve the level of civic knowledge, that is what you should worry about.”

He was on to something. The World Values Survey, a global study by social scientists from over 100 countries, found that far fewer millennials object to autocracy than their elders. Only 19% of millennials in America and 36% in Europe say that if the government were incompetent or failing to do its job, a military takeover would still not be legitimate. Just a third see civil rights as “absolutely essential” to democracy. In America, more than a quarter dismiss the importance of free elections. In 1995 only 16% of American youngsters thought democracy was a “bad” system; by 2011, that number had risen to almost 25%.

One reason may be that long-standing democracies have forgotten the need for eternal vigilance. Worried about unemployment and global competition, governments and schools have focused on preparing young people for work, rather than to participate in democracy. Citizenship education, said Michael Gove, Britain’s education secretary from 2010 to 2014, was a “pseudo-subject”. In America, schools no longer bother testing it. When the subject survives, it is often recast narrowly, says Bryony Hoskins of Roehampton University, as a way to counter radicalisation or promote national values to recent immigrants.

In Britain, a positively regarded curriculum introduced by the Labour party in 2002 has been largely dismantled. There is much talk of “educating for character”, with the aim of developing “grit” and “resilience”. But it is narrow and instrumental, says Ben Kisby of the University of Lincoln, reflecting the government’s focus on pupils as future workers and consumers, rather than as voters. In Poland, a recent revision to the syllabus has thrown out all discussion of how the European Union functions; the focus is on Polish identity formation. “‘Nation’ is more important than ‘society’; ‘Pole’ is more powerful than ‘citizen’,” says Alicja Pacewicz of the Centre for Citizenship Education in Warsaw.

In America civic-education classes no longer cover what life is like in non-democracies. Schools used to educate their charges about life in the Soviet Union, points out Richard Kahlenberg of The Century Foundation, a think-tank, making the case for democracy by comparison. But when the cold war ended, that stopped. He thinks declining support for democratic values is a partial consequence. “It’s easy to be sceptical [about the value of democracy] when you don’t know anything different,” he says. Without context to help them appreciate the benefits and safeguards afforded by democracy, young people may be vulnerable to emotional appeals to nationalism and fiery rhetoric about seizing power from “elites”.

Laboratories for democracy
The best civic-education classes do more than impart knowledge about how government works. They create environments in which pupils get used to the tools of democracy, such as debating controversial issues and disagreeing respectfully. Parents may worry that schools are indoctrinating their children, and teachers can be wary of treading on thorny ground. But schools are more ideologically diverse than many other environments, making them ideal testing-grounds for such skills.

It is important to avoid crude propagandising, says Peter Levine of the Centre for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University. Pupils’ criticisms of their country’s politics and governance may be perfectly legitimate. Members of some minorities may be justified in distrusting arms of the state, such as the police; cheerleading in the classroom may alienate them further. Best to combine realism with discussions of practical steps pupils can take to bring about change, says Mr Levine. Rather than simply teaching about Martin Luther King Jr and the Voting Rights Act, for example, use the story to emphasise that social movements are driven by ordinary people, who can make a difference.

Schools in Nordic countries seek to ensure democratic values are developed right across the curriculum, and from the very start. Even the youngest children take part in age-appropriate decision-making: choosing the name of their group, for example, or what they will eat. Older pupils are expected to help develop school policy. They learn to make a case and cope with being outvoted—and that every choice, even that to abstain, has consequences.

Research suggests that these programmes work: pupils who have become used to discussing current affairs are much more likely to be politically engaged and involved in their communities, and to vote when they are old enough. Civic-education programmes also increase the likelihood that pupils will have more accepting attitudes towards people of different backgrounds. In Norway, where 95% of 14-year-olds participate in school elections, more than in any other country, nearly the same share participate in multicultural activities outside school.

A new programme, “Learning Democracy at Utøya”, has turned the Norwegian island where 69 people were killed by a far-right terrorist in 2011 into an education centre. Over three days pupils learn about the attack, as well as challenges to democratic values and how to respond to them. Much of the programme is interactive, prompting students to reflect on their values and argue their position. They then develop lessons to share with their peers back at school. Participants say it is an emotional experience: most of the victims were teenagers. In the words of Marianne Støle-Nilsen, a teacher in Bergen who took four of her pupils to the island, it is a place “where you don’t have to explain why teaching democracy and continuing to fight for it is important”.

Source: How to teach citizenship in schools | The Economist

First Nations School of Toronto ready for brighter future

While I always have mixed thoughts about ethnically (or religiously) based schooling given that it can hamper integration, understand the pressures particularly with First Nations.

It will be important to have some long-term evaluations of this school’s effectiveness, not just in terms of graduation rates (important, where I expect improvement) but 10 years post-graduation in terms of employment and income:

Twenty-five years ago, Shannon Judge was an indigenous student in a Barrie high school where sports teams were named the “Redskins.”

A generation earlier her mother, from Wasauksing First Nation near Parry Sound, wasn’t allowed to speak her first language of Ojibwe at the elementary school she attended on her reserve.

Today, Judge’s two children are finally breaking the cycle at First Nations School of Toronto. Raven, 9, and Rayne, 8, are part of a new era of indigenous education that teaches them through the lens of aboriginal experience and history.

Thanks to their school, both children now speak Ojibwe with their grandmother, which has inspired Judge to take lessons too, provided by volunteers through the school. Morning smudging ceremonies and daily 40-minute language and culture classes with an elder are part of their routine.

“I feel like my kids are getting something from school that’s not only education, but a connection to their history and identity that empowers them and gives them a sense of worthiness,” says Judge.

As of this month, students will have the option of keeping that connection until they graduate from Grade 12, following the school’s long-awaited move from its cramped quarters at Dundas Street Public School.

The Judge family - Shannon and Neal with Raven, 9 and Rayne, 8, - are shown outside the First Nations School of Toronto, which opened in its new location this month.

The move to the spacious building — site of the former Eastern Commerce Collegiate, which closed in 2015 due to falling enrolment — means that beginning in September, First Nations School will introduce a new high school grade each fall. The new Grade 9 class next September will become the first graduates in 2021.

That will make it Ontario’s first publicly-funded school to offer aboriginal education from kindergarten through Grade 12.

“The dynamics have changed,” principal Jonathan Kakegamic said following the Jan. 10 opening on the six-acre property, also home to the Aboriginal Education Centre run by the Toronto District School Board.

The kids, currently in kindergarten through Grade 8 and from all over the city, were beside themselves to see all the space, inside and out. Instead of eating breakfast and lunch in a crowded classroom, they now have a cafeteria, along with their own gym and an auditorium.

“I’m just excited to be here,” says Kakegamic, who moved from Thunder Bay last August to become principal. “It’s an honour to be part of this new era.”

Attendance has already risen to 131 students from 96 in September and the new site will accommodate 600.

Teacher Maliha Mitha reads to her Grade 1 and 2 class at First Nations School of Toronto during the children's first week at the new site.

Kakegamic and others in the community stress that expanding to secondary school is critical to reducing high dropout rates among indigenous students, who often feel lost in a larger system that doesn’t teach their perspective and history.

Source: First Nations School of Toronto ready for brighter future | Toronto Star

ICYMI: How a country gets forged in the classrooms: Salutin

Good piece on the integrative role of the public school:

My friend and neighbour Rob Vipond, who’s a political science prof and whose daughter Susanna looks after our cat and turtle when we’re at the lake, has written a neighbourhood book brimming with love. It’ll be out this spring. He says it’s the “biography of a school” — Clinton Street Junior Public, where both our kids went. It’s a nonacademic book, full of academic rigour and insight.

He had the great idea of focusing on public schools as incubators of citizenship. Private schools can teach about citizenship but can’t ever embody it, since people go there in a private role, vs. as taxpaying members of society. Public schools are labs, not just for studying citizens but for growing them.

As a poli-sci guy, Rob is also chronically fascinated by the place of the state and formal political structures, and schools are an ideal field for study since, as he says, they are “the one state institution with which many citizens have daily and recurring interaction.” In a downtown school in The Six, like Clinton, those interactions for about a century have revolved around dealing with newcomers.

So he tells three stories. One is about “Jewish Clinton,” during the first half of the last century, when Clinton was largely Jewish. Canada still saw itself as a “Christian country,” making it hard for Jewish arrivals to feel like full citizens. Then in 1944, Ontario’s Tory premier made religious i.e., Christian, instruction mandatory, like math or science.

Clinton’s response was basically to ignore the law without kicking up a fuss. It was brilliant, a subtle form of civil disobedience, which made it possible for Jewish families to gradually acquire a full sense of being Canadian rather than having second-class quality thrust upon them.

The eras of Italian Clinton and Global Clinton followed, during which Canada groped its way toward “multiculturalism” while governments added laws and bureaucracies. But at Clinton, the effort to construct “multicultural citizenship” was “all part of the daily routine.” The meaning of multicultural got sorted out right there — in classrooms and at recess. The challenge was “to pay respect to the country’s … legacy” while adapting it to “the needs and aspirations” of newcomers.

Could you integrate them without stigmatizing their heritage as “an obstacle course to overcome?” Could they contribute as themselves? “A real sense of belonging” is hard to attain if it means betraying your own identity, which you brought with you. These issues are still unresolved, as Tory leadership provocateur Kellie Leitch reminds us. But practically speaking, at Clinton, it meant “Toronto’s students might well learn something from their newly arrived classmates.”

Let me add a footnote here, based on my own teaching of a half course in the Canadian studies program at U of T over several decades. The names on my class lists have changed mightily, as Clinton’s did over a longer time. When I started, the program seemed more or less designed for people from north Toronto. The courses were basically variations on Atwood (for culture) and Innis (for social science/history): two Canadian academic staples, like timber or the beaver.

But over the years, Canadian studies added Asian-Canadian, Chinese-Canadian, Jewish-Canadian, aboriginal, etc., courses and “chairs” — the lively mélange would probably have been unimaginable to those who set it up in the late 1970s. The north Toronto contingent still attends but, as Rob says, they learn something in return from their more recently arrived classmates.

In fact, we all win. For those of us teaching, we can’t just toss out headings (federal-provincial relations, Rocket Richard, the nativity story). We can toss them out, but we also have to fill them in. It’s good for us, it reveals our assumptions, especially to ourselves, and leads to treatment of glossed-over issues.

We, in turn, learn about, oh: Model Minorities and Cooking in Madeleine Thien’s Simple Recipes; The Critical Role of Cultural Beliefs in Shaping the Perceptions of Mental Health by Chinese-Canadians; The Emergence of Queer Punk in Toronto; along with old friends like, An Appraisal of the War of 1812 and, BlackBerry: Canadian or Not? (All covered in the CanStudies student journal, IMAGINATIONS.)

This doesn’t just reflect what Canadian studies has become, it’s what Canada has become, despite the urgent efforts of Leitch and others to dictate our meaning to us, from the top down. Maybe she should sign up for some courses.

Source: How a country gets forged in the classrooms: Salutin | Toronto Star

Stephen Gordon: Canada doesn’t have a Harvard, and that’s a good thing

Stephen Gordon on the weakness of the US elite college system in terms of social mobility:

It’s hard to tell which theory is correct: human capital models and signalling models both make the same basic prediction about the salaries of university graduates. Researchers are obliged to leverage information from natural experiments to distinguish between the two theories, and it’s usually the case that evidence that seems to support one side can be re-interpreted as supporting the other as well. A reasonable conclusion is that both stories have support in the data, and that each may play stronger roles in different contexts.

This brings us back to Harvard. The lengths to which people will go in order to obtain a Harvard degree are easier to understand if you think if a Harvard degree as a signal, and not a measure of human capital. To be sure, Harvard’s faculty deserves its reputation, but to the extent that teaching assistants and contract lecturers are responsible for much of the teaching at the undergraduate level (as is the case at so many other universities), the amount of human capital on offer at Harvard is unlikely to justify the prestige a Harvard degree conveys.

A more plausible story is that a Harvard degree conveys a signal: it shows that you have what it takes to get into Harvard in the first place. And indeed, the signalling story would also explain the trend to grade inflation at Harvard and other Ivy League universities. The grade most frequently awarded at Harvard is an A, and the median grade is A-. If students (and their parents) are paying for a signal, elite universities are going to be expected to provide it.

Signalling — and the wasted effort that goes with it — is much less pervasive in the Canadian university system. While some universities and some programs may have relatively higher entrance standards, getting into a “top” Canadian university is nowhere near as difficult as entering an elite U.S. college: the entire undergraduate population of the Ivy League is roughly equivalent to that of the University of Toronto. Moreover, the consequences of not getting into a top Canadian school are relatively minor: those who graduate from a Canadian undergraduate program are on a much more equal footing than they are in the U.S.

The U.S. has a rigid hierarchy of universities: the fact that they have a certain number of high-prestige schools has to be set against the fact that access to them is extremely limited, and that those who don’t make it into the top are at a permanent disadvantage. And since children from high-income families have greater access (elite universities typically offer “legacy” admissions to children of alumni), post-secondary education in the U.S. is at best a weak force for social mobility.

If — as available evidence suggests — Canadian social mobility is significantly greater than it is in the U.S., then much of the credit goes to the fact that there is no Canadian university that plays the prestige-signalling game that Harvard does. A “Harvard of Canada” is the last thing we need.

Source: Stephen Gordon: Canada doesn’t have a Harvard, and that’s a good thing | National Post

Éthique et culture religieuse: contre tous les dogmatismes | Le Devoir

Good defence of the Quebec ethics and religious culture course by Christine Cossette who teaches it:

Je dis aussi à mes élèves que le doute fait partie de la foi et la rend plus intelligente en l’éloignant des dogmatismes. La foi n’est pas une évidence ; elle doit se soumettre constamment à l’esprit critique. Je la présente donc non pas comme une instance qui dit quoi penser, mais plutôt comme celle qui donne des outils pour mieux penser sa vie. C’est alors que la religion est au service de l’homme et non le contraire.

Ce que le volet Culture religieuse m’autorise à faire, c’est de mettre en lumière le nécessaire travail d’exégèse sur les textes sacrés. En étudiant par exemple la question de l’origine de la vie, je vois le darwinisme et j’analyse le contexte d’écriture des récits de la Genèse qui peuvent, s’ils sont lus mot à mot, mener à de l’obscurantisme. Mes élèves comprennent donc que, dans ces textes, scientifiques et bibliques, deux discours se côtoient mais ne s’opposent pas et qu’un scientifique peut donc être croyant ou non.

Le cours d’ECR m’offre aussi l’occasion de parler de la spiritualité qui est la commune condition humaine (qu’on soit religieux ou pas). En effet, l’être humain n’a pas nécessairement besoin de se lier à une quelconque divinité pour vivre de valeurs qui le grandissent. La spiritualité appartient à l’homme dans son humanité la plus profonde, précisément parce qu’il porte en lui un mystère qui le dépasse. L’occasion est belle ici de parler de ceux qui ont ouvert d’incroyables chemins d’humanité grâce à leur foi, à leur générosité ou à leur réflexion philosophique.

La mondialisation, avec ses limites et ses grandeurs, nous oblige à réfléchir sur l’avenir de l’humanité : comment en arriver à sauver un espace de dialogue entre chacun de nous ? Le combat n’est plus à faire entre les athées et les croyants, mais bien entre les esprits ouverts et les esprits dogmatiques qui, eux, prétendent connaître la Vérité. Or, on sait que le dogmatisme se cache autant dans le monde religieux que dans l’univers anti-religieux. « Pour mener ce combat pour la liberté et pour la tolérance, dit Comte-Sponville, nous avons besoin de faire la paix entre croyants et incroyants, de nous allier contre notre ennemi commun, qui n’est pas la religion, qui n’est pas l’athéisme, mais qui est le dogmatisme. »

Le cours d’ECR me permet de proposer cet espace de réflexion pour une humanité plus respectueuse des uns et des autres. Il me donne cette possibilité aussi de présenter ce que l’orthodoxe Olivier Clément appelle le « noyau de feu » de chacune des grandes religions en mettant en lumière ce qui les unit. Après tout, n’est-il pas honnête de dire que d’autres avant nous ont laissé des trésors pour vivre en humanité ?

J’aime donner ce cours. J’estime qu’il contribue à former des citoyens justes, courtois et à l’esprit critique. Mais je suis fatiguée de lire toutes les inepties qu’on peut en dire. Je rêve du jour où, enfin, ses détracteurs se donneront la peine de lire, non pas les cahiers d’exercices, mais bien le programme tel qu’il a été pensé, tout en précisant qu’il devrait être un peu plus balisé pour obliger ses professeurs à toujours plus de rigueur à travers l’apprentissage de fondements philosophiques, historiques et théologiques.

Study Shows The U.S. Attracts An Elite Muslim And Hindu Population : NPR

One area where US immigration policy works well:

Hindus and Muslims who have migrated to the United States in recent years are especially well-educated, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center. On average, Hindus in the U.S. have nearly 16 years of schooling, significantly more than Jews, the next most highly-educated U.S. religious group. Muslim Americans have nearly 14 years of schooling, which is well above the U.S. average.

The high education levels of U.S. Hindus and Muslims are in stark contrast to the schooling levels of those populations worldwide, where they are the two least educated of all religious groups, with just 5.6 years of schooling on average. The Pew data underscore how U.S. policies and world migration patterns have produced a highly selective representation of the two immigrant groups.

“Hindus and Muslims in the United States are a pretty elite segment of the global Hindu and Muslim population,” says Conrad Hackett, a Pew demographic researcher.

In both cases, they are generally newcomers. Nearly nine out of ten Hindus in the United States and two out of every three Muslims were born outside the country, according to Hackett.

With their relatively high levels of education, they qualify for higher paying positions. As immigrants, their experiences challenge the stereotype of foreign-born workers competing with native-born workers for low-skill, low-wage jobs.

“A lot of people, when they look at Asian Americans and their relative success, say there’s something about Asian culture,” notes Karthick Ramakrishnan, a political scientist and immigration expert at the University of California, Riverside. “[But] if you look at culture in Asia, it doesn’t predict the same level of success. So we have to look for answers elsewhere.”

The answers largely lie in the unique U.S. immigration experience of Muslims and Hindus, almost all of whom have come from distant countries in the Middle East and South Asia.

“They’ve had to travel to the United States, perhaps at considerable cost,” notes Hackett, meaning they are likely to be among the most privileged part of the population in their native countries. In this regard, their situation is different from that facing immigrants from Mexico or Central America, who can move to the United States more easily, with or without immigration papers.

Without the option of being able to come illegally across the southern U.S. border, Hackett notes, Muslim and Hindu immigrants “have to deal with U.S. migration policies, which in many cases favor people who have skills that they have acquired through considerable education.”

The Muslim and Hindu immigrants to the United States leave behind the more poorly educated segment of their religious groups, who can’t afford to immigrate or don’t qualify for immigrant visas.

The Hindu and Muslim stories contrast with that of Jews, who according to the Pew survey are well-educated wherever they are found. Worldwide, Jews have an average of 13.4 years of schooling, compared with 14.7 years for U.S. Jews. (Christians worldwide have 9.3 years of schooling on average, while U.S. Christians have 12.7 years.)

The disparity in schooling levels between Hindus and Muslims worldwide and those in the United States may be diminishing, however. The Pew study found education for Hindus and Muslims is improving around the world, with especially notable gains for Hindu and Muslim women.

Where immigrants go to school is more important than where they came from | The Economist

More on the OECD PISA results focussing on immigrant children:

IF YOU think starting a new school is scary stuff—try doing it in a new country. Migrants can face a twin disadvantage. They are often concentrated in struggling schools. And, at least at first, they may suffer from having to toggle between languages at home and in class. Two-thirds of pupils born outside their host country use another tongue at home. Nearly one in two second-generation immigrants does so.

It is little wonder that many migrants struggle on the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests. The children of foreign-born parents are on average about a year behind their peers, even after accounting for parental income.

This finding hides a lot of variation (see chart). In Australia and Canada pupils whose parents were born abroad do better on science tests than similar teenagers with native-born parents.

Meanwhile immigrants in European countries are often far behind. In Germany first-generation and second-generation migrants are respectively about 2.5 and 1.5 years behind teenagers with German-born parents, even after accounting for their different economic backgrounds. There are similar results in Finland, a country often lauded for its record of equality in education.

For sure, migrants’ origins matter a lot. Second-generation East Asian pupils in Australia are roughly 2.5 years ahead of those with native-born parents. They do even better than pupils in Singapore, the highest-performing country in PISA, even as results in Australia as a whole have fallen.

Yet the country in which the immigrant attends school is more important than the one he comes from, says the OECD’s Andreas Schleicher. Turkish-born pupils in Germany are nearly two years behind in science tests compared with those in the Netherlands, after adjusting for different economic backgrounds.

Policy makes a difference. Attending nursery or extra language tuition helps migrants catch up. Limiting selection by academic ability gives them more time to make up ground. Not making them repeat a year has the same effect.

Admissions policies matter, too. Avoiding high concentrations of migrants in particular schools would help their academic achievement. It would probably also help poorer native children.

The task of educating migrants better is urgent, especially in Europe. The share of children of foreign-born parents in the OECD that took PISA increased from 9.4% in 2006 to 12.5% in 2015. It could rise further in light of the numbers of migrants settling in Europe in 2015 and 2016.

A survey last year by the OECD found that about 80% of second-generation immigrants feel at home at school. But outliers should cause concern. In France, for example, just 40% of second-generation immigrants say they feel as if they belong in school. That is a figure to make everyone in the country sit up straight.

Source: Where immigrants go to school is more important than where they came from | The Economist