In Quebec, kippahs are out, but swastikas are OK

September 11, 2013

There have been very few times I have been ashamed to be Canadian, but today is one of them.

The provincial government of Quebec is institutionalized its vision of a secular society and “state neutrality”. It has produced its own “Charter of Values” that prohibits all public servants from wearing religious symbols or dress while at work. For example, female Muslim teachers can no longer a hijab to work. Jewish men who work as public servants may no longer wear a kippah. This poster shows what is and is not acceptable in Quebec workplaces:

Valeurs_depliant_version_longue-7.jpg

On the top row you can see the approved “non-ostentatious” symbols that recognize “Quebec heritage”, including a small cross or a discreet Star of David. So, Christian and Jewish symbols are OK, as long as they are not too obvious.

But clothing is out. Turbans, hijabs and kipphas all have to go.

Note the distinct lack of the swastika in the poster. The Quebec government might say those are OK, because they are not a religious symbol. The message seems pretty clear: Fanaticism might be tolerated, but showing that you believe in a non-human supreme being is not. Of course, the Quebec government has not explicitly said, “Yes, please wear a swastika to work”, but by not adding it to its list of “unacceptable symbols” the permission seems implicit, no?

This new “Charter of Values” has made international news and has Canadians up in arms. This CBC news article says that support for the Quebec government’s new policy is growing, however.

Journalists such as Steve Murray have parodied the new policy, suggesting that perhaps hockey jerseys should also be outlawed. After all, we would not want fans of the Montreal Canadiens offending those who believe strongly in the Toronto Maple Leafs. Can you imagine the riots that might break out at the local Tim Hortons if people went after one another for wearing a jersey from the wrong team? You might spill your double-double. (For my non-Canadian readers, that is Canadian-speak for a cup of coffee with two lumps of sugar and two helpings of cream).

Another, Canadian-born journalist, Fariha Naqvi-Mohamed offers a brilliant response to the Parti Quebecois in her Huffington Post Op/Ed.

What gets me is that this dress code does not seem to have been thought through. We have a national Charter of Rights and Freedoms that trumps (or should trump) what happens on a provincial level.

It’s not that I don’t think there should be a dress code at work. Safety and social decorum are two sensible reasons to have a dress code. People who work in an environment where the risk of injury might increase if your hair gets in the way, well, they should have to tie it back or tuck it under a cap, for example. That’s just  common sense.  Likewise, there’s no need for public servants to wear bathing suits, hot pants or pasties to work.  That sort of attire is more suited for work outside the public sector. That’s also common sense.

But banning religious symbols and particular pieces of clothing in the hopes of creating a secular society? Really? Didn’t the former Soviet Union try that and fail? Miserably?

As I mentioned earlier, people holds lots of beliefs that have nothing to do with religion… Those are still OK, though? You can believe in aliens or racial supremacy or child labor and that’s all OK?

Mind you… Quebec is the same  province that was able to pass a law banning businesses from posting any signage in English, in order to promote the French language. (Equally silly, in my humble opinion.) They seem to have carte blanche to do whatever they please and we’ll let them do it because, well… they’re Quebec.

Hopefully, Quebecers will remember that we still live in a democracy and they get to elect their leaders.

Practice tolerance

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Book launch: Critical Perspectives on International Education

March 19, 2013

Launch party - Critical Perspectives in Education

A few weeks ago I was excited to tell you that the book, Critical Perspectives on International Education had been released. My contribution to the book is a chapter called, “The Administration of English as a Second Language (ESL) Programs: Striking the Balance Between Generating Revenue and Serving Students” (pages 149-162).

Tomorrow is the official launch party for the book. I’d like to invite you to join us to celebrate international education!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

4:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Education Tower, Room 830 (TERA)

University of Calgary

2500 University Dr. N.W., Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Entertainment will be provided by Afo-Danse Troupe

RSVP here: http://fluidsurveys.com/surveys/sarah-khan/book-launch-yvonee-hebert-and-ali-a-abdi/

Critical Perspectives on International Education Sarah Eaton

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Learning to Talk Like Jesus: How TV shows in Sweden support the Aramaic revival in the Middle East

May 29, 2012

Sarah Elaine Eaton blog - Languages, Literacy and Leadership

Sweden is providing a new twist on learning an old language, for  young learners of Aramaic in the two villages in the Holy Land’s small Christian community, in Beit Jala, Palestine and Jish, Israel.

In the Beit Jala Mar Afram school, run by the Syrian Orthodox church, priests have taught over 320 students Aramaic over the past five years.

In Jish approximately 80 elementary school children are taking Aramaic as a voluntary option in school.

The elementary school children who take part in the Aramaic language learning program learn to speak, listen, write Aramaic script and read the language.

Dia Hadid of the Associated Press reports that:

“The dialect taught in Jish and Beit Jala is “Syriac,” which was spoken by their Christian forefathers and resembles the Galilean dialect that Jesus would have used, according to Steven Fassberg, an Aramaic expert at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.”

The language classes have been met with criticisms from some parents and community members, some of whom are worried that having students learn Aramaic may be an attempt to convert them to Christianity or may be a threat to their Arabic identity.

According to the Associated Press, some members of the Christian community in the region still chant their liturgy in Aramaic, but few people understand the prayers.

Enter Sweden. Swedish officials estimate that anywhere from 30,000 to 80,000 Aramaic speakers reside in that country. The Aramaic community is strong there and includes an Aramaic soccer team, “Syrianska FC” in the Swedish top division from the town of Sodertalje.

Aramaic speakers in Sweden publish a newspaper called “Bahro Suryoyo”, as well as pamphlets and children’s books, including The Little Prince. But what really helps the students learn the language is Soryoyosat, a satellite television station maintained by the Swedish Aramaic community. For some members of these two villages in the holy land, watching Aramaic programming from Swedish TV station provided the first opportunity in decades for them to hear the language spoken outside church. The Associated Press reports that “Hearing it in a modern context inspired them to try revive the language among their communities.”

This is one case, where technology and television are benefitting language learners both in terms of making learning more accessible and in increasing their motivation. These kids are “kickin’ it old school”, using new technology. Aramaic may be saved, yet.

Related post:

Can TV can help you learn another language?

https://drsaraheaton.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/can-t-help-you-learn-another-language/

References

Associated Press. (2012, May 28). Pair of villages in Holy Land teaching Aramaic in effort to revive language that Jesus spoke: New focus comes with help from modern technology. NYDailyNews.com. Retrieved from http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/pair-villages-holy-land-teaching-aramaic-effort-revive-language-jesus-spoke-article-1.1085728

Hadid, D. (2012, May 28). Aramaic: Efforts To Revive Jesus’ Language In Christian Villages Beit Jala, Jish In Holy Land, Sweden. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/28/aramaic-holy-land-jesus_n_1550507.html

Hadid, D. (2012, May 29). Revival of Jesus’ language attempted in two Holy Land villages. Southeast Missourian. Retrieved from http://www.semissourian.com/story/1854012.html

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Thanksgiving, gratitude and appreciation: activities with a high-school ESL class

October 26, 2011

Sarah Eaton and Farida Garrett at James Fowler High School: Collaborators on a Lesson in Gratitude

Recently I was invited to speak at James Fowler High School in Calgary to a group of English as a Second Language (ESL) students from the Philippines, Afghanistan, Palestine, Kenya and other countries. The theme was gratitude and appreciation.

My invitation was to visit the class two times. The first time was two weeks ago, during which we incorporated the theme of Canadian Thanksgiving, which had just passed. Today was my second visit to the school. I got to work with the students on their gratitude journals, which they started earlier in the project.

Here’s how we structured the session:

Objectives

  • Learn about Thanksgiving as a celebration
  • Learn new vocabulary around giving thanks
  • Increase students’ awareness of what it means to give thanks and be grateful
  • Develop an understanding of gratitude as a personal, social and cultural practice.

Artifacts, realia and props

  • A pumpkin
  • A banana bread made by the students’ teacher, Mrs. Farida Garrett (It was her idea to share the cake to symbolize “breaking bread” together)
  • Letter blocks that spelled out “Give Thanks”

Supplies

  • markers
  • coloured pencils
  • glue sticks
  • glue gun
  • stickers
  • flip chart paper

Session #1: Activities

Saying thanks – Students shared how they say “thank you” in their native languages. Then, they wrote out the word(s) on a flip chart paper.

Vocabulary building – The words “thanksgiving”, “gratitude”, “gratefulness” and “appreciate” were written out on flip chart paper. Mrs. Garrett drilled students on how to pronounce the words. We worked with students to help them use the words in sentences.

Brief on Thanksgiving – We talked about the celebration of Canadian Thanksgiving, how it originated and what it means.

Making a thank you card – Students made their own thank you cards and thought about who they’d like to give their card to.

In between my first visit and second visit to the school, the students started a gratitude journal.

Session #2 Activities

Review the new vocabulary.

Review what the celebration of Thanksgiving is about.

Students developed their gratitude journals, contributing writing and drawings about what they were grateful for. We asked them to express their appreciation for their family, teacher, school, community and country. Students generated their own ideas about what they appreciated.

What an amazing group of resilient, bright young students Mrs. Fowler has. At the beginning of the first session, students were hesitant to talk and seemed baffled when they were asked to think about people in their lives that they appreciated and why they were grateful to them. By the end of our second session, the students were talking openly about who makes a difference in their lives and why they are grateful to them. In two weeks, they grew leaps and bounds in their personal development, as they learned that recognizing others  and appreciating them is a significant part of cultivating meaningful relationships.

Who deserves your thanks today?

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


10 Steps to Raising a Multilingual Child

August 9, 2011

The Multilingual Children’s Association has a great list of 10 steps to raising a multilingual child:

  1. Agree on multilingualism
  2. Know what to expect and when
  3. How many languages — what is practical?
  4. Decide which language system works for you
  5. Don’t wait — now is the perfect time!
  6. Declare your intentions
  7. Establish a support network
  8. Get relevant materials
  9. Set your goals, but remain flexible
  10. Have patience and keep going

I loved what they have to say. Check out the full article here: 10 Steps to Raising a Multilingual Child http://bit.ly/n357oH

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


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