Monday, July 05, 2004

WITH MOUNT SAINT VINCENT IN CORNER BROOK



After a night in Sydney, where the trusty Airport Express harnessed to the hotel’s ‘wireless in your room’ facility allowed us to catch up with email on the run and to move a lot of large files by attachment, we made the 9am ferry to Newfoundland. There was fog most of the way, so we weren’t tempted to sight see. Instead we stayed in our cabin working on our share of the work to a develop a book prospectus. By the time the ferry reached Port aux Basques on the south western corner of Newfoundland the sky was clear and the afternoon truly beautiful. We stopped to look at the Cape Ray Lighthouse and then went directly to Corner Brook.

The occasion here is a 3 week summer institute for Masters students enrolled with Mount Saint Vincent University. The university is based in Halifax and offers its Education students who are enrolled at distance a range of programs delivered ‘locally’. We say ‘locally’ advisedly, since some students are traveling long gravel roads in Labrador before making the ferry crossing to the northern tip of Newfoundland and then driving 500 km south to Corner Brook. As with distance students we have encountered all over the world, the participants in this present course overwhelm us with their enthusiasm and preparedness for what we are hoping to do.

The ‘Institute’ is an elective within the Masters program, which is a collaborative effort between the Mount St Vincent University and the University of South Australia. 50 students are participating in this course, which looks at boys, literacy and schooling. Over the 14 days of work we will be taking in a sizeable sample of the literature on the alleged ‘crisis’ surrounding boys and literacy: a ‘crisis’ increasingly described in terms of boy’s being more ‘disengaged’ from their schooling than girls.

We have serious reservations about many aspects of this alleged crisis and welcome the opportunity to think it through with a good-sized group of teachers who stated at the very outset of the course that they see many instances of boys experiencing difficulties with literacy work while, at the same time, recognizing ideological dimensions of the ‘realities’ circulating around the current crisis. It promises to be an interesting and challenging time.

The Course Outline will give a sense of the ground we’ll be covering. Meanwhile, we will be trying also to see as much of the island as we can, and will post some pics from time to time.

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