Tag: Back in my day

The School time table.

This is one of those “in my day” rants.

Sometime about 30 – 35 years ago, Ontario secondary schools adopted the semester system where subjects were taught in 4 ½ month semesters. The class length was increased from 40 minutes to an hour and a half. There were 4 classes per day and there was one day scheduled. This day was then shuffled a bit to make a 4-day cycle.

Some of the advantages were:
• everyone knew what would be taught each day (although not the exact time/period)
• and there was no loss of certain subjects because of statutory holidays, snow days or professional development days
• There was more time for in class assistance at the end of instruction time, and
• (This may be the key.) The schedule was easy enough for a two-bit computer to create.

There were also some disadvantages;
• If you managed to be unlucky enough to get two spares in a semester, you only received instruction and assistance for half a day. Semi-motivated students could get lazy
• Some subjects where a half school year gap in instruction caused problems (such as math) suffered
• Many otherwise decent students had trouble focussing for an hour and a half. At that time, University courses were only one hour long.
• I also believe that when the change from short to long classes was made some of the less motivated teachers just spent less time instructing and gave more time for what used to be homework.

When I was in secondary school, we had an amazing VP who created our schedule by hand.
• Classes that needed to be longer were double classes.
• Laboratory-based sciences were double – instruction then lab. The total class time was 7 per week, 3 singles and two doubles
• Home Economics/Shop classes were double – theory/drafting then making and twice a week
• Physical Education classes were double to allow for a decent workout and twice a week.
• Language classes were 7 a week so that literature and composition could be covered.
• Math classes were once a day. In my final year of secondary school I had 3 maths.

What kind of school did I attend? It was the only secondary school in an industrial town with a nearby military base. There were just under a thousand students in a mixed arts/sci. technical school.

Recent studies have shown that it isn’t just time in class that determines measurable success. Sometimes continuity of instruction over the year is required and yes, sometimes it is time in class.

If a human could schedule a variety of class lengths over a year surely, it is possible to program today’s computers to develop a hybrid schedule with some classes in shorter time slots carried over a full year; some classes longer and semestered in half years; year round phys. ed no requirement for each subject to be taught each day.

There is no need to have day one be Monday etc. Develop a schedule where the subjects are covered in a reasonable cycle and number the days as with today’s agenda. Today’s students operate on a Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 1 basis. That could be Day 1 …. Day “n” and restart so no particular subject is shorted because of cancelled days.

Surely School Boards, teachers and administration could get together and develop such a system for the benefit of our students. We have the technology.

the Plaidneck

Entitlement – Part 2

Too often lately we’ve heard something like – I take obscene amounts of money from those who choose to trust the corporation that hired me because I have a “position” and am entitled – from people in positions of privilege.

Is this statement just greed or is it an inherent feeling of entitlement?

Not too long ago, I listened to a discussion of recently published research; “How Wealth Reduces Compassion” from Scientific American. It appears that the richer one is the less s/he cares about others (and when there is care, it’s a self aggrandising type of caring – buildings named after the donor, foundations carrying the donor’s name etc.). That the wealth is inherited or earned seems to make no difference.

The more the wealth the less the compassion.

At a seminar a few years back, a university professor said he once had a mixed class of engineering and business students. He held a discussion about ethics. The engineers debated what ethics should govern and when; the business students wondered what the fuss was all about. It seems that those who become successful in business don’t pick up compassionate ethics along the way

It has been recently reported that North American Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) earn 200 – 300 times the average worker’s pay. This has increased from about 25 times in 1964 with most of the increases occurring since 1990.

In the early 2000s I read a book “Barbarians at the Gate”. It dealt with the take over of Nabisco. Banks, lawyers and financiers lined up to make money from the take over. Greed by way of fees was taking over.

The value of the company changed not because of what they produced, but because of the competition to purchase it. In the end, probably the only person who came out with a bag of cash was the CEO – someone who was really only hired help.

During the recent Banking crisis in the US, CEOs used the fact that their bank got bail out money as reason to qualify themselves for bonuses basically saying “there’s money there and I’m entitled to a chunk of it.”.

A number of charities pay their CEOs well over $350,000. (One reported their compensation package 5 years ago was $2.7 million). People give to many of these charities to help those less fortunate, not to assist those who feel “entitled” because of a position.

CEOs are hired help. They are compensated in cash and stock (including options). The intent of stock options is to tie the CEOs compensation to performance. However, it has been argued (and I believe successfully) that they encourage short term blips vs long term company health.

Granted CEOs are highly intelligent people who exhibit wisdom in their decisions. They should be compensated. In Japan, the ratio is 16 time the average wage. It is probable that the 25-time ratio as in 1965 was and still is reasonable.

We probably all feel entitled to something, but should not that entitlement be tempered by compassion?

CEOs have benefited from education and wisdom collected and created by the many who came before. Although they work hard, it’s only work. Many below them in the corporate ladder work equally as hard. Earnings should be reasonable, not an entitlement because of position.

There are people who deserve to be better off than others. Basing a society on taking from those who perform and giving to those who don’t has been tried and did not succeed. However, entrusting our future to “entitled” “uncompassionate” people also is not a platform for success.

Surely, without selling the farm, modern society can devise a system of management that can assist those who need assistance and reward those who have earned the reward yet still maintain the harmony and compassion required for a functioning society. Maybe maybe ethics with less entitlement can be worked into the system again.

The Plaidneck

Going Forward

Bureaucratic jargon of the day.

Work with me here; I want to reach out to the community and dialogue about what we are doing going forward.

“Reach out”. This is a hand/arm movement often used to offer aid to someone slipping or falling or to get something from a drive through window. When/why did it become talking to someone.

“Community” Actually not a bad word, but too overused. Community has become any aggregation of people that would seem to suit the talker’s purpose. It is being used too loosely. When citing a community, we should specify it one step further
neighbourhood community
a music community (bluegrass, piping, hard rock, choir, etc)

“Dialogue”. This is a two way conversation often written. When/why did it become the word used for discuss, negotiate.

“Going Forward”. This is a description of physically moving in a direction that is basically in front of you. The car is going forward (as opposed to being in reverse and backing up). Used as in the introduction sentence is just superfluous. It seems to be used when talking about plans for the future. You can’t plan for the past and the present just is. This is a pair of words that should not be used.

And “Work with me”. Work is force times distance. It is the exertion or effort exerted to accomplish something. As we became more and more cerebral, we transferred the word to thinking and producing something. Using work with me to describe negotiations is too much of a stretch.

I was trained in a technical profession. I worked in that profession all my working life. I; however dealt with people who did not work in that profession. In order to be understood, unnecessary technical jargon was not used. The bureaucratic speak of the day was dropped and plain unencumbered language used. Discussions were intelligent and decisions arrived at from meetings, negotiations, etc had decent results.

Don’t fall for the jargon of the day. Be precise with your words.

The Plaidneck.

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