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Enrico UvaRSS Feed of this column.

I majored in chemistry, worked briefly in the food industry and at Fisheries and Oceans. I then obtained a degree in education. Since then I have taught chemistry in the U.S. but mostly in Canada... Read More »

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Almost twenty years ago, when I was working at a private school in Montreal, I was approached by a bearded fellow wearing a name tag. It was the first day of school for staff, and that's what our school did with their new teachers so that older staff members could learn the names of newcomers more easily. I was not exactly the life of the party either, but there was something unusual about this fellow. We exchanged a few forgettable words that were probably interrupted by the more familiar sight of someone who I had not seen all summer long.
He stood by the door of a subway car, looking from side to side to see if anyone was looking. Maybe my clothing camouflaged me against the background of my seat. More likely, I did not pose a threat, and certainly he didn't realize I was a teacher at his school. He opened his long coat, and for a moment I thought he was going to flash the ghosts of the subway tunnels when suddenly he pulled out a marker from his inner pocket and tagged an advertisement on the wall.
Although I've earned a living because of parents and other adults who think otherwise, some people believe they can do a better job teaching their own children. Parents who convert their homes into schools have to be respected. They do sacrifice money---one parent usually works on a part-time basis or doesn't earn a salary at all. But there's far more. Many teachers complain about a society that only pays lip and financial service to education while not being intellectually committed to it. Well, here's a group taking action on a daily basis, devoting themselves to making their children literate and numerate.
Naturally, while some Northerners spend their winter holidays in warmer latitudes, some sun-soaked people spend their Christmas holidays skiing in snowy mountains. To most ears, a voice advising them to enjoy what they already have is like an old snack-crackle-and pop recording from yesteryear.