education

Saskatchewan’s Education Minister Gave a Speech Last Week and It Will Blow Your Mind (No, Not in a Good Way)

Saskatoon Stonebridge-Dakota Sask Party MLA Bronwyn Eyre has a rich history of opining on education and educational institutes.

In 2010 Eyre wrote a newspaper column entitled ‘The Slippery Slope of Sexual Education’, wherein she questions whether Grade 5 students need to be taught the anatomically-correct terminology for the reproductive system, or Grade 6 students the basics on how not to contract a STD.

Eyre then proves her point by sharing an anecdote about how when she was 11, she mistook the change pocket on a pair of shorts for some kind of penis-holder, and decries sex education for teenagers as “not doing much to improve teen self-esteem” or to “promote a greater sense of honour and respect in sexual relations”.

In 2009 she blamed, in part, a lack of stay-at-home mothers for the prevalence of colds and flus in schools. In 2011 she declared climate change science “witchcraft reasoning” and that she hoped global warming would return to the prairies (cause winter, get it?).

In a 2012 (2 years after poo-pooing sex education in schools) pro-life column she said:

“I wish women would talk, dare to talk, about the complexity of (fetal development and abortion) and not have to pretend the fetus was the next thing to an appendix or loose tooth.”

Cause that’s a thing, apparently. I mean, what woman hasn’t tied a string to their uterus and then slammed the door?

In 2014 Eyre defended pro-life and anti-gay fanatic Bill Whatcott’s right to spread his disgusting (and I mean disgusting), hate-filled filth on post-secondary campuses in Saskatchewan, and BC’s Trinity Western University for trying to restrict its students’ sex lives to between married and heterosexual couples only.

In 2016 Bronwyn Eyre was appointed Saskatchewan’s Minister of Advanced Education. In 2017 she was promoted to our province’s Minister of Education.

In a speech she gave in the Saskatchewan Legislature at the beginning of November, Eyre outlined her opinion on the future of our children’s education in Saskatchewan, and it’s just as fucked up as what she’s been throwing down in print for the last eight years.

Problem is, now it’s not just her opinion – it’s her plan.

Here are the more troubling excerpts from that sarcasm-laden speech, which was delivered on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 and can be found in its entirety in Hansard here:

“We have arrived at an important crossroads in education. And when it comes to a broader discussion about curriculum… there has come to be at once too much wholesale infusion into the curriculum… too many attempts to mandate material into it both from the inside and by outside groups…the broader curriculum has become watered down…students are becoming guinea pigs in some cases for whatever is being tried out by the system.”

If I’m a teacher, that’s the part where my head tilts a bit to one side, and maybe I squint my eyes.

“…bottom line, you’re not going to be able to change the world on any social issue if you can’t write properly.”

I’m sorry what? Five seconds ago the curriculum was “watered down”, but now our kids are outright illiterate?

She then continues detailing more reasons our kids won’t change the world, including,

“…if you don’t know that 230 years ago French revolutionaries called their movement Citizenship, or that later Maoists were very partial to school children singing indoctrination songs, or that a key tenet of cultural bolshevism was prominently displaying ideological slogans in schools…”

Oh, I see – we’re not indoctrinating enough communism into the curriculum. There’s that sarcasm in action. So mature.

“My grade 8 son brought a homework sheet home the other day — they’re always sheets…”

Goddamn those worksheets, right?

“…he’d copied from the board the following facts which were presented as fact:”

Facts as fact. Cool.

“…that European and European settlers were colonialists, pillagers of the land who knew only buying and selling and didn’t respect mother earth.”

#recordscratch (in Eyre’s head)

“He asked me if it was okay if he could write that he associated with his pioneer great- and great-great-grandparents…I said yes, of course…”

Oh my god the poor little thing; he must have been so confused. How will he ever bounce back from that kind of trauma?

“…they had known poverty in Norway or Ukraine, or war in Germany, that they had come here and tilled the land that produced food for everybody and loved their families and tried to create whole, stable communities in this province, and had loved it here.”

Please.

First of all, what does being poor in Scandinavia have to do with anything?

I freely admit I struggle with the term “settler” and its relatively new negative connotation. All eight of my great-grandparents were European immigrants to Saskatchewan, and I am grateful that their hard work building a homestead landed me where I am today.

However, I’ve also grown to understand that my ancestors, along with thousands of other European immigrants (aka settlers), forcibly displaced Saskatchewan’s indigenous residents (to put it simply), creating a chain of negative events that still feeds the cycle of racism, poverty and lack of privilege (also put simply) plaguing our indigenous population today. And I feel really, really shitty about that. If I could go back and undo my own good fortune so as not to destroy the lives of others I would, but I can’t. Therefore, I do my best to channel my regret through reconciliation, which to me means educating myself, and making sure my kids are educated, about the true context of our personal history and its impact on Saskatchewan and Canada’s indigenous nations, and about the treaties.

But who cares because English was Eyre’s Baba’s second language and the struggle is real, people:

“My two grandmothers went off to school (in Saskatchewan) speaking only Norwegian and Ukrainian respectively, to one-room schoolhouses… And yet one of my grannies became a business owner, what’s known today as a female entrepreneur. The other was brilliant in math.”

Oh for the love of…are we seriously doing this again?

Eyre went down this road last fall, sitting in a room full of Saskatchewan’s Northern and Indigenous residents who were trying, seemingly in vain, to get the reality of their circumstances through her skull. Her response, which she defended in the Legislature, was to compare their grandmothers’ history to that of her own, who she says didn’t have “lunch money” or “running water”.

The implication of that little outburst, of course, being, “and look at me – I’m successful, highly educated, financially secure and ultimately very privileged… what’s your problem?”

Just as, if not more troubling is the fact that Eyre’s more recent speech was given as Saskatchewan’s Minister of Education, in which she is threatening treaty education in the curriculum and broadly and politically condemning teachers, administrators and her own Ministry.

Is it any wonder that the Saskatchewan Teacher’s Federation is running a campaign pushing their thousands of members to buy Sask Party memberships to Pick a Premier? If its successful and enough teachers buy memberships, it is entirely feasible that they will do just that – and I promise you it won’t be the status quo.

If I’m a teacher – hell, if I’m a Saskatchewan resident with cognitive thinking skills and even a moderate emotional IQ – I’m buying a Sask Party membership right now and making sure anyone who thinks and talks like what I detailed above hits the backbench and stays there.

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Lots and lots of you have asked if I would create a Patreon page, which again, is totally mind-blowing and I’m not crying, you’re crying. I looked into it, and it’s pretty cool – basically a subscription-donation service for people who make stuff, I guess like this blog – so I did. I mean seriously, if everyone who read this blog regularly threw in a few bucks a month, um.. well things would amp up around here, let’s just leave it at that. Anyway, here is my brand new and shiny Patreon link, and thank you so much for support and for reading.

Like what you’re reading? I’d love to keep doing it for free, but I have to feed my kids, and these posts take forever to write. By clicking the Donate button below, your generous contribution makes sure I can keep doing both.

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For those of you who care, I’m Tammy Robert. I’m a writer, but pay the bills consulting in media and public relations. Feel free to email me anytime about either at tammyrobert@live.ca.

 

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13 replies »

  1. So likely They endorse Chevy as he is the only anti-establishment candidate. The Sask party is terrified if he wins right from wanna be Talkshow host Bill Oreilly to Brad Wall and Reg Downs.

    My vote is going to Chevy and Wyatt as they will not allow ladies like you just pointed out to be in any sort of power.

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  2. Still a limousine liberal I see Tammy. Bronwyn’s pro life? Then everything she says is wrong! Bronwyn’s not for the “new math”? She’s a trogdolyte! You have white guilt, so everyone has to have it and if you’re white and not guilty to the point of wishing you could give away all that you’ve unfairly earned due to your privilege you’re … not LIBERAL enough! Bronwyn’s misinformed somehow if she believes that students aren’t learning enough, but universities around the world are saying exactly that (but Bronwyn’s WRONG, so there’s some kind of dichotomy there…) And only a limousine liberal who’s so focused on educating children would pen an article on educating children with swearing in it. There’s a couple of words in your column here that I’m sure those “illiterate” kids know quite well how to spell, TYVM. Tammy, I laughed at you when I was your token small town conservative counterpoint for CBC Saskatchewan 4 provincial elections ago, and I’m still laughing. I’m not going to give up one tiny thing about my life or lifestyle because of something your ancestors did or didn’t do. And I’m going to continue to laugh, a lot, at the misguided morons who do.

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      • Hi there! Pardon the interruption. I taught first year English at the University of Saskatchewan last year. I found the students, almost all of whom were from Saskatchewan, to be extremely well prepared to write fluent, critical papers. I suppose somebody must have taught them this skill. I bet it was a Saskatchewan teacher.

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  3. Where is the part where I can leave money so I don’t have to read another one of your articles? You have gotten a wee bit negative since you left the JGL show on CJME radio. Do you need a hug? If you have to resort to F bombs and name calling then haven’t you already lost the argument? I understand being passionate about a cause and perhaps it was a jerky move (it definitely was, sorry) for me to lead with a joke about donating money to not read your articles. I do hope people who enjoy reading your craft donate because I believe you when you say you are NOT getting rich doing this. I guess I just don’t understand where all the hostility comes from? Do we have it all that bad in this province? I work in the oilpatch so full disclosure it’s not a shock that I didn’t vote NDP, but I took a $30,000 / year pay cut a few years back and there are no signs of even a slight pay increase on the horizon. I’ve worried every day for 4 years about my job, …but I still have a job. And things aren’t that bad. And Brad Wall and the Sask Party have not ruined everything any more than the NDP didn’t ruin everything back when I was in high school and university. More full disclosure, I’ve only read 2 or 3 of your articles so maybe I’m judging your work too harshly. And despite my rude intro joke, keep writing, do your thing, and I do miss your disagreements with John Gormley on the radio waves.

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    • Hey Don – thanks so much for reading, but maybe next time you comment you could consider picking just one of your personalities? One per comment, anyway. Oh, and the Donate button works the same regardless of why you push it, so I look forward to all of you getting off your wallet whenever one of you is ready. Toodles, Tam.

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  4. This issue was clearly defined in 1996. The history aspect is simple fact. Unfortunately that is not exactly/honestly what is going on. Or at least not in the Regina School Board. The mandated participation in the Keiros Blanket Exercise is a prime example of this. As the CBC reported the board re-educated even the carpenters, drivers and IT personal. This had nothing to do with these jobs. The blanket exercise is disturbing in a number of ways beyond the mandatory approach taken. I was written by religious groups that were strangely absent from mention of any complicity in the residential schools. The 60’s scoop was mentioned without mentioning the greater scoop era from which the term was coined. They had to pick out the writings of a army officer that was stationed in Pennsylvania U.S.A. To advance a dubious notion of the passing of smallpox laden blankets.
    You clearly mentioned an importance of accuracy in the telling of history. This would be something I strongly agree with. I feel that lies of omission present a underlying dishonesty in the presentation of history. First hand writing of officials from the Hudson Bay Company suggest efforts to help people that had contracted small pox. This makes logical sense, after all what would be the advantage of killing your fur supplier purposely. The point is people are people. It is deceptive to believe that everything was utopian before People of European decent moved to the upper and lower Canada area. There is enough aweful treatment of humans to not have to embellish the history in a one sided fashion. That is not reconciliation. I saw you mention social history. My radar now goes off anytime a word is used as a prefix for a word that does not need one such as a neutral word like history. Clearly the minister was disturbed by the one sided nature of the presentation of her and your ancestors as having the mens rea that is presumptive in the explanation to a grade 8 student implied in the words written down from the board. The expectation of a negative reaction to that would be natural.

    Teach history and teach it honestly. But don’t pretend that it is a given that all the collective of many First Nations of Canada were all on the same page with only a care and concern for “Mother Earth” this is demeaning to the humanity of these people in my opinion.

    Along the lines of Martin Luther King Jr. judge content of character not color of skin.

    I a not a settler person. I was born here and before some of the people that would claim to call me one based on superficial unchosen visual characteristics.

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  5. The first public school I attended was Prince Edward. Then a new one was built and they called it Prince Charles. This was the 1950s in Prince Albert Sask. Every classroom had a picture of Queen Elizabeth in the front along with a map showing the British Empire in red. Sask law and system of government was in large part adopted from Ont via Great Britain, the British Parliamentary system. Meanwhile indigenous children were housed in a residential school on the east hill of Prince Albert completely separate from the rest of the education system. We have been totally subjected to many British colonial practices since the beginning of the province in 1905, but we did not actually realize it for many years. Bronwyn Eyre still does not realize it. Since the 1990s there has been some greater efforts to tell the story of the indigenous people during the opening of the west in school curricula. It sounds like Bronwyn Eyre wants to reverse this. Her comments are narrow, retrograde and divisive.

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