I had been back at Asticou about five weeks when I realized that the passive receiver of language learning was not working for me, and I spent a weekend thinking about some of the challenges I had gone through in the previous year. I kept coming back to the tutor’s analysis — I wasn’t letting go. Except I had, at least to the extent I could i.e. the extent that was within my personality and my learning style, and it hadn’t worked. I needed a different option. Since letting go wasn’t working, what if I took full control?
Lots of people might read that sentence and think, “Oh, of course, the student has to drive their own learning, be responsible, be engaged, etc.”. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about something much more dramatic.
I went into my first interview on the Monday morning and it was with a teacher I knew well. » Read the rest
And all of us except one failed. The one who passed? The weakest one among us. Partly as her “stories” for telling what she did for a living were pretty simple in comparisons — she was a clerk who did very basic admin work. No one asked her how she answered the phone or sorted the mail. No follow-up questions, ever.
One of the other people in the group was a policy analyst, like me, and during their test, they were asked to explain “How do you go about analysing a policy?”. Umm, what? That question makes no sense. It’s like asking a car mechanic what steps they do to “mechanize” a car. Asking how to do research or do data analysis might be real questions, but an analyst couldn’t answer it well in english, let alone french. » Read the rest
I am a not a linguist by anyone’s definition. I’m not very eloquent in speaking English, let alone any other language. I can write pretty well in English, and I edit even better, but other languages were never my strength. I grew up in Peterborough, which was not exactly the hub of linguistic diversity. Or any other kind of diversity, for that matter, at the time, although it’s changed a lot since I was a kid.
We started French in grade 4 or 5 as I recall. I was okay, mostly because I was a good student, not because I had an aptitude for it. One year we did “French Xmas” i.e. we made yule log cakes, basically made lunch for the other teachers and one or two parents. I don’t even remember if we got to have any ourselves, other than the cake. I do remember that we got to go into the teacher’s lounge, and for the era, being shocked to see teachers acting normal instead of like their classroom personas. » Read the rest
I am doing a series of articles on the book “Rethinking Canadian Aid” (University of Ottawa Press, 2015), and now it’s time for “Chapter 17: Conclusion: Rethinking Canadian Development Cooperation — Towards Renewed Partnerships?” by David R. Black, Stephen Brown and Molly den Heyer as the three editors. Their conclusion, and the title of the book, is that things are a-changing when it comes to Canadian aid, and whether it is under Harper’s governance or over a longer time period, it is time to rethink Canadian aid as a result. Except I don’t think that is the conclusion I get from a more critical review of the text. Bear in mind that I am not reading it as an academic, I’m reading and critiquing it from the perspective of a manager — does it hold any resonance for me, does it identify the key factors at play, does it ring true? » Read the rest
I am doing a series of articles on the book “Rethinking Canadian Aid” (University of Ottawa Press, 2015), and now it’s time for “Chapter 16: Undermining Foreign Aid: The Extractive Sector and the Recommercialization of Canadian Development Assistance” by Stephen Brown. In the words of the author, “This chapter argues that the new initiative [of funding mining projects] was emblematic of a new turn in Canadian development assistance — namely, the explicit recommercialization of aid. Canadian trade interests have always underpinned Canadian aid to a certain extent (Morrison 1998). However, a clear trend in the 2000s, under Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin, and the Stephen Harper minority government, had been to move away from commercial self-interest.”
As I started the chapter, I suspected I was going to have a problem with the thesis. In short, I don’t think it’s true, not even in the sense that it could be part of a trend — I disagree that it is commercialization let alone re-commercialization, nor do I think it is part of a trend as Brown sees it. » Read the rest