Ontario’s Health and Physical Education Curriculum

Hello my 2 or 3 followers. How have you been? Here is my upteenth atempt and upping my follower count to at least 5.

So there has been a lot of noise lately about the newly introduced Health and Physical Education in the province of Ontario. I had ignored it up till today. Considering that my daughter will be directly impacted, I thought let me look into this issue.

My main concern is the reason behind the change. Why was it done?

Turns out the previous curriculum  has been in place since 1998 (elementary schools).  That’s not too recent right? Actually, it is far too old. Do you know what has happened since 1998? Digital revolution!

  • Mobile phones
  • Tablets
  • Myspace
  • Myspace died
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • On and on and on.

Man, I bet you have upgraded your car twice since 1998.

Well, turns out the government thinks so too. So our civil service did what any “civil” service would do, research the hell out of it. The research culminated in April 2010 (link) but it’s finding were quickly quashed and key sections relating to health and sex were blown away :

In April 2010, after misinformation was used to attack the Human Development and Sexual Health section of the elementary health and physical education (H&PE) curriculum, the Ministry of Education withdrew that portion of the document. A few months later, they also backed away from releasing the secondary H&PE curriculum. Ever since, teachers have been using all or part of a 15-year-old document 1998 (elementary) and 1999/2000 (secondary) to teach sexual health and all other components of the grades 9-12 H&PE curriculum which is now out-of-date and well behind the standards set in other provinces.

After much deliberation (read : political haggling) on 23-Feb-2015, the government revealed the new Health and Physical Education curriculum. The idea behind the new curriculum was to update it for “today’s child”. The key aspects of it are <Link> :

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Benign so far!

Well, as it turns out, the civil service/government and scientists and public health agencies and studies from WHO and studies from UN and parents and students have produced sufficient evidence that Ontario is severely lagging in the area of sex education (Link).

Here is a quick comparison with other provinces under Sexual Diversity.

Given that all students, including those from families with same-sex parents, should see themselves reflected in what they learn at school, references to families with same-sex parents or sexual orientation and gender identity were included in expectations, examples and/or prompts at all divisions (primary, junior and intermediate). In subjects across provincial curricula, diversity, mutual understanding and empathy are encouraged and celebrated.

Ontario’s 1998 Curriculum Grade 8 : distinguish the similarities and differences between themselves and others (e.g., in terms of body size or gender)

2010 Revised Ontario Curriculum (now part of the 2015 curriculum) requires students in grade 3 to describe how visible and invisible differences make each person unique (including sexual orientation) and identify ways of showing respect for differences in others.

Notice how in the new curriculum, it is in grade 3 that students should identify the differences in sexual orientation. While in the older curriculum, this was taught in grade 8? This is astonishing. My daughter, a 12 year old, would be taught now that there are people out there with different sexual identity. A fact that she has already learnt from books/tv/talking to peers. Utter bullshit.

This is but one example. Another one that really scares me is that although teen pregnancy has dropped significantly, STIs have increased 79% in from 2001 to 2011 (link). This is really scary. So children and teens are careful not to get pregnant but are not careful enough to avoid STIs. This is a simple WTF. It was found out that kids and teens are regularly indulging in oral and anal sex as a misguided attempt at not getting pregnant. This is crazy. Thankfully, that gap will be closed by teaching the kids in grade 8 the dangers of this kind of thinking.

So why are some citizens up in arms about the new curriculum?

Their core argument boils down to : let kids be kids. But there is no mistake. This is a fight between research based curriculum and religious dogma.

The people protesting are headed by Campaign Life Coalition (a rabid anti-abortion group). And heavily helped by conservatives in the society.

I would urge you to spend 30 minutes and read this document (link) which clearly lists down what is being taught and why.

To me the idea behind the change is to bring the Physical and Health education standard upto to 21 century where kids experiment with sex no matter what the parent say. It is better to prepare them for the consequences in a classroom setting than the dinner table.

Updates to follow.

Paper book vs e-book vs audio book : which is better and why

I am an avid book reader. There has never been a point in my life that there has not been a book around me. I mean, even when I doing number 2, there has to be a book near me. So, with the advent of e-book readers and audio books, one would say, I have reached my book heaven.

Er, actually, no. I am more confused than ever! What format should I adopt, completely? Should I stick with the paper version, should I buy a hardware (Kindle, Kobe etc.) or should I follow audio books more avidly?

Therefore, to answer my questions, I have chosen 5 criteria to gauge the desirability of one format over the other.

1. Read-ability

What I mean by this criteria is the ease with which I can read (or hear) a format. In that regard paper wins hands down. I mean there is no way the e-book readers can compare with the fonts and the paper background that a paper book. I have looked at both and I can conclusively say that ebook readers suck as far this criteria is concerned.

And what about audio books? Well, this where the audio book scores very high except in one scenario (I will come to it soon).

The biggest feature of an audio book is it’s ability to fill in free time. By that I mean when you go out running and you are not in the mood for music. Spend time listening to a book (other formats fail here). When you are waiting in doctor’s waiting room, listen to a book (in case you forgot to bring other formats). And so and so forth.

Audio books have an ease of reading that is unparalleled but they feel miserable miserably in one aspect. Night time reading. One of my most pleasurable moments of the entire day is night time reading. The evenings I am not able to read at night, I just feel the day has not ended on a high note. In that regard, audio books fail completely. I have tried and I cannot get used to the idea of listening to a book before going to sleep at night (which is strange because I use the drone of an audio book to put me to sleep on the GO train).

So, I will stick to a paper book as the choice under this criteria.

Paper Book = 3; E book = 1 ; Audio Book = 2

2. Browse-ability

One of my projects in my life is collecting books. And I don’t mean first editions or rare editions. Since I read 2 – 3 books at a time, one of the books I read is usually a repeat. I love to sit and browse through my collection trying to figure out which book to read.

Therefore, in that regard, a paper book wins again. I sometimes sit in front of my bookshelf for 20 to 30 minutes just browsing books – opening a book I have read before and just reading a page randomly trying to decide if this is the book I should read. That’s just not possible with ebook (ok maybe just a little bit) and definitely not with audio books.

Paper Book = 2; E book = 1 ; Audio Book = 0

3. Durability

Of course if I have a bookshelf and I like to browse, the books have to have durability. I don’t want to open a book after a few years and find out that the book is now junk because of a little moisture. Sadly, paper books fail in that sense.

Paper Book = 0; E book = 2 ; Audio Book = 2

That is not to say that if you take care of your books, they will still be destroyed. But the chances that I may drop a book in a puddle of water or leave the book on a plane are high. However, if I do the same with ebook reader or an MP3 player, I still have the book. Just not the hardware which I can easily buy again.

4. Environment friendly

Sadly paper books fail miserably, again. There is no easier way to say this……. Books kill trees and have a detrimental affect on the environment. That’s not to say that other formats have no impact at all. I mean, the ebook reader and an MP3 player have a huge carbon footprint when compared to a book. The thing is that you buy a hardware once and use it for many years practically negating the initial affect.

As an environment conscience guy, this is one of main reasons why I want to stop buying books and convert to the other two formats.

Paper Book = 0; E book = 2 ; Audio Book = 2

5. Second hand-ability

One of the main ways I purchase books are at the hand me downs shops tucked away in the various corners of a city. It gives me so much satisfaction to
roam around a bookstore and find a used book a second home in my life at a heavily discounted price. And this feature does not exist in the other formats. You pay for a book whatever the list price is at the back cover.
Unless there is a deal going on, the price never changes.

Unfortunately, this is kind of a deal breaker for me. My library consists mostly of used and discarded books and, on a rare occasion, a new book. I
look at my books as friends I have known for a long time. My copy of Starship Troopers (bought at $3/-) has been read and re-read numerous times. I can start the book at any page and immerse myself in it
completely. The same goes for Moby Dick. Or Brave New World.

This criteria alone tops every other criteria listed and is the sole reason why I continue to purchase paper books rather than other formats. Unless a dazzling new way of reading comes up, I am afraid I will be sticking to paper books and a few free books on other platforms.

Paper Book = 3; E book = 0 ; Audio Book = 0

Total Score :

Paper Book = 8;
E Book = 4
Audio Book = 6;