What is Winnipeg?

FortGarryToday we spoke at great length as to what was and is Winnipeg on both 1919 and 2015. If you can, reflect on our discussion today, the articles of the past week, including the infamous MacLean’s Magazine article, and your knowledge of the Winnipeg General Strike.

How has Winnipeg stayed the same? What issues does Winnipeg face? What are potential solutions?

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Theories of Justice: Application

Photo taken from cognitivephilosophy.net

Photo taken from cognitivephilosophy.net

In today’s learning experience, we investigated the concept of Justice and how various people have conceptualized it. We learned what Kant, Bentham, Aristotle, Locke, and Rawls all had to say about the idea of Justice. Michael Sandel helped us realize that Justice is not a concrete idea, but one that is very much up for debate:

We tried to match our understandings of justice with the scenarios he posed and then we tried to see how the theorists we explored might view justice in the context of the trolley car example.Here are the resources we looked at in the event you need to refresh yourself:

Bentham: https://www.evernote.com/l/AI83q45ycZ9GH7TTeNj4b1iL1Pu8OD5WHAE

Locke: https://www.evernote.com/l/AI887xh_MLdLXZ1LRf8FIfZ76XCcKaqIaP8

Kant: https://www.evernote.com/l/AI95p7gavNJEX7OWWY4BL2jQW93iRXlp5DQ

Aristotle: https://www.evernote.com/l/AI_asHETlR9CxKYB-Cae1woeL9pcSHswbhM

Rawls: https://www.evernote.com/l/AI_ub8cKwTZHNrjVM9wTEIT37apHEQFQMyk

Now here are the facts of a real case in Canadian legal history. What we would like you to do is familiarize yourself with the facts of the case and then comment on how your philosopher might perceive justice in this case. Next, what would be justice for you? Comment and/or comment on what someone else has said. Be courteous, concise, and thoughtful. Take time to reflect and read what your peers have offered.

CASE OF ROBERT LATIMER- FACTS OF THE CASE

On October 24, 1993, Robert Latimer, a farmer from Saskatchewan, placed the helpless body of his 12 year old daughter, Tracy, in his pick up truck and connected a hose from the exhaust to the cab resulting in her asphyxiation by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Tracy had been born severely disabled with cerebral palsy and at age 12 still had the mental capacity of a three month old. She was completely dependent on her parents for round the clock care. Just prior to the events that would lead to his arrest, Latimer had been told that his daughter would require further operations to correct a hip dislocation that had been aggravated by her advanced scoliosis- a condition that had reached the point where her spine diverged from a perpendicular position by 75%. He was advised that the operation would place her in even greater pain than the intense pain she was already experiencing. Moreover, because of other anti-convulsive medication she had to take to control her epileptic seizures, she could not be given pain killers of greater strength than regular Tylenol without the risk of inducing a coma. Latimer would later contend that he was faced with the dilemma of subjecting his daughter to ever more agonizing operations without the ability to limit the intensity of her pain because of the adverse interaction between the drugs she was taking and any pain medication stronger than regular Tylenol.

It was under these circumstances, he would claim, that he chose to end her life.

October 24, 1993- Wilkie, Saskatchewan, Latimer ‘places’ his 12 year old severely disabled daughter- Tracy -in cab of pickup truck- piping CO into the cab through a series of connecting pipes and hoses and resulting in her death by asphyxiation.

November 4, 1993- RCMP bring Latimer in for questioning and arrest him on charge of 1st degree murder.

Experience: Is Place Essential to Learning and Transformation?

Walking in the Bird Sanctuary at Phillips Academy in Andover - A place.

Walking in the Bird Sanctuary at Phillips Academy in Andover – A place.

This week I have had the extreme privilege to share time and space with outstanding educators from all over the world at the 2015 ISEEN Institute. ISEEN is the Independent Schools Experiential Education Network. Most educators, it would seem, are coming from places where outdoor, service-based, and/or global education are imperatives and are integrated into various curricula.

I am struck, however, that all three silos are based on one fundamental principle associated with experience — place. Place tends to be the common denominator when we have discussions about learning, growth, and transformation. Learners are going somewhere, are at a place, or are hanging from a mountain. David Orr spoke of place as a means to achieve an ecological literacy, as evidence through his Meadowcreek Project.

But I think experience does not have to exclusively relate to the external world. We can be transformed and become better people and agents of social change outside of this notion of place. My question then is can this type of learning happen without being grounded, rooted, or connected to geography, buildings, or nature?

Yesterday morning, Eric Hudson of Global Online Academy, presented to our group on the idea of creating educative and transformative experiences for learners through technology — where time and space are annihilated. Learning communities, according to him, were rooted in relationships, ideas and the creation of new bodies of knowledge. This understanding of experience moves away from place-based education and the lived experience and focuses learning communities on moments of disequilibrium or cognitive dissonance based on difficult concepts, conceptualizations of humanity, and our purpose on this planet.

As an educator at a university prepatory school where we are the largest consumers on the planet, I am uneasy about creating experiences which pack students up into planes and drop them into developing communities for 15 minutes. I am uncomfortable with events like WE DAY which are perhaps manipulative and a platform for corporate sponsors.

The emphasis on place might limit the experiences we attempt to foster as we are relying on only certain modes of understanding and contextualization. The emphasis on place, as it is often conceived, often requires a certain socio-economic status of our learners. Place might often exclude the vast number of learners who simply do not have the resources to leave their urban neighbourhood, First Nation reserve, or rural community.

Freire suggested that experience, and simply put learning, should be emancipatory and fundamentally based on dialogue with peers and elders (as Illich would posit in Chapter 6 of Deschooling). In many of our contexts, the majority of our students are quite affluent. The transformation, or experience in this case, must fundamentally be an emancipatory one as learners must understand how their actions, both individually and collectively, contribute to the oppression of others within their own communities abroad. (I might suggesting reading Jay Roberts’ Beyond Learning by Doing as “chapter 1” in experience.)

Experience, and educative experiences based on growth and a change in attitude and behaviours, is fundamentally about ethics and moral reasoning. We know that there are massive knowledge-action gaps pertaining to the crises of our time, and as such the transformation to what I speak arguably needs to based on dialogue, relationships, the creation of new bodies of knowledge, and Socratic self-examination. If our desire is to cultivate learning environments which produce global citizens, cosmopolitans, and an ethic of Umbuntu (I am human because you are human…), then the experience is not necessarily phenomenological; rather it can transcend time and place and transformation can occur in spaces we don’t anticipate as educators.

It has been really fascinating to speak with educators from all over the world this week, including my good friends Thomas Steele-Maley, Rebecca Powell, and Becky Anderson. I thank all participants for making me think about my philosophy of education. You are amazing educators and people. I also wish to thank all the organizers of the Institute and specifically the board members of ISEEN. Bravo.

Claudia Ruitenberg is far more eloquent than I could ever be, and I am intrigued by her metaphor and her understanding of experience and place. I leave you with her thoughts:

If one wishes to educate students to have a commitment to their social and ecological environment, one needs to start with an emphasis on commitment rather than on locality or community. Despite the commonly used metaphor, human beings do not grow actual roots on which they depend for their physical, intellectual, or ethical nourishment. Instead, nomads who have learned the ethical gestures of hospitality and openness to a community-to-come will bring nourishment to any place in which they land.

The Role of Satire

Aristophanes via Notable Quotes.

Aristophanes via Notable Quotes.

With recent events in Paris and the debate over the role of satire, free speech, and hate laws, there has been a healthy interaction in the Winnipeg Free Press which looks at what satire is, firstly, and then whether it is critical to Canadian and global democracy.

St. John’s-Ravenscourt‘s very own Mr. Mark Duncan responded today in the Freep to a letter. The original letter, by Harry McFee, condemned the use of satire. Here is the letter written by Harry McFee: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editor/letters-jan-19-289002191.html

Here is Mr. Duncan’s response this morning (scroll to the last letter): http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editor/letters-jan-23-289547151.html?cx_navSource=d-tiles-1

Based on the debate between McFee and Duncan, where do you stand on the use of satire? How far can free speech be taken? When are Charter rights not absolute?

Here’s Rick Mercer’s latest rant. Is Ricks’s satire important to Canada’s democracy?

Good luck!

Myth & History: #Warof1812 #sirJAM

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Taken from the Toronto Star

This week, we have looked a great deal at how Canada’s history has often been transformed into mythology, for better or for worse.

We have analyzed a number of historians, events, and positions related to the supposed mythologies of the Winnipeg General Strike, the War of 1812, and Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A. Mcdonald.

We investigated what Desmond Morton referred to in his book Canada: A Short History as the christening of the War of 1812 as Myth (2006, p. 38). From there we looked specifically at the Battle of Queenston Heights from the perspective of two historians, Robert Vineberg and Donald Hickey, who argued that the heroes at Queenston Heights were really Sheaffe and/or Norton, respectively. We then questioned why the Government of would spend $28 Million on commemorations of the War of 1812, when historians, like Morton, seem to deem it not so significant.

Here is an article from the New York Times which looks at the War of 1812 and its politicization. Andrew Cohen is featured in this article and I would encourage you to read his linked article form the Ottawa Citizen (although republished in the Calgary Herald). He suggests that the Harper Government mythologized the War of 1812. Why would the Government do this? Do you agree with Cohen?

Next, as the 200th anniversary of John A.’s birthday is approaching this weekend and all the major papers will be full of “history buffs” explaining why John A. is a hero or villain. (Watch in Saturday’s Winnipeg Free Press.) We read in class Richard Gwyn’s essay on why we should commemorate John A. and we also researched how the Numbered Treaties were essentially negotiated under duress and how the Canadian Government under John A. arguably committed genocide and other atrocities. Here is a review of Daschuk’s book Clearing the Plains which we referenced in our student-led seminars on Big Bear and Riel/Dumont. How is it that John A. can be deemed the Father Figure of Canada, and at the same time have caused such harm?

So…Here we have a few events, people, and positions which have been arguably trumped up as myth. Why do we do this? Why do we create interpretations of history that might be embellished? What does this type of “history” serve? What is our task as critical and historical thinkers when it comes to myth and history?

Do some reading. Do some thinking. Call a classmate and have a conversation about the idea of myth and history, referencing specially the War of 1812, John A. and or the Winnipeg General Strike. Upload your conversation to Soundcloud and tweet it out ususingsirJAM, #Warof1812, and #sjrcanhis. Be sure to use the historical thinking concepts to help you analyze and create arguments. Please tweet out your phone calls by Sunday evening.

“Myth basically serves four functions. The first is the mystical function,… realizing what a wonder the universe is, and what a wonder you are, and experiencing awe before this mystery….The second is a cosmological dimension, the dimension with which science is concerned – showing you what shape the universe is, but showing it in such a way that the mystery again comes through…. The third function is the sociological one – supporting and validating a certain social order…. It is the sociological function of myth that has taken over in our world – and it is out of date…. But there is a fourth function of myth, and this is the one that I think everyone must try today to relate to – and that is the pedagogical function, of how to live a human lifetime under any circumstances.”

Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth