In as much as some people are praising elements of the CRTC's decision last week when it came to Net Neutrality in Canada, I remain the right cynical bastard lovehatethings readers would expect. As such, I created the following to protest the lack of vision on the part of the CRTC. Please don't upload this to a Bit Torrent site in Canada. Anyone who downloads it will have their bandwidth throttled if the ISP deems it necessary.
It's not often that I allow my day job to creep into lovehatethings. In fact, I enjoy using LHT to wind down and express ideas outside of work most evenings while hockey plays mute across the room. Tonight though, and partially because I was encompassed by it all day, I want to share the text submission of a presentation I made to the Standing Committee on Social Policy at Queen's Park in Toronto.
The topic was "Student Achievement" and the new legislation (Bill 177) they seek to impose would make it the responsibility or everyone, from teachers to educational assistants to school board trustees, to ensure th at Student Achievement targets were being met. The trouble is, while the Bill (which passed 2nd Reading in the House) actually includes Student Achievement in its title, a definition or standard for Student Achievement is NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. In other words, my job performance is now based on something that is undefined.
I realize that this may be boring as sin to any of you who aren't either living in Ontario or tied to public education, but I'm too tired to write anything else tonight.
A couple of quick definitions to start:
EQAO = Education Quality and Accountability Office which is also the group that provides and grades the standardized test at the grades 3, 6, 9, and 10 level.
Deming's Disciples = William Deming, the father of modern productivity and quality control in industrial settings, revolutionized post-war Japan with the work ethic that the country would become famous for. Unfortunately, while his theories hold well for manufacturing concerns, several educational theorists tried to apply them to education in the 1970s and 1980s under the guise of the Effective Schools movement. The major flaw lies in the fact that students are not widgets, and you can't throw away bad ones when they hit the "factory" floor.
Submission to the Standing Committee on Social Policy
Hearings on Bill 177 – An Act to Amend the Education Act with respect to School Board Governance and Student Achievement
With the term “Student Achievement” ready to be cast in stone, or at least into the Education Act anyway, as a key goal for all students, education workers and now trustees across Ontario, one should have a concrete definition in order to set goals and know potential risks for job performance.
What then is our clear concrete definition of “Student Achievement”? I suppose one could look to the Education Act and find what the Ministry of Education has deemed “Student Achievement” to be. After all, when Bill 177 passes, school boards will be able to taken over by the Ministry. Locally-elected trustees could be denied their abilities to represent their constituents. You would think the trustees, and municipal voters across the province, might like to know what standards they are being held to. But, alas, no such definition exists in the pages of Bill 177.
In lieu of a provincial definition, perhaps local school boards could define their own parameters for “student achievement” in a clear, concise manner so everyone could easily “get on board”. After all, the term is plastered all over school board websites and PR materials while becoming the blanket defense for every questionable action a board takes. If they close a program or a school, if they add fees for specialized programs, if they seek to segregate students by gender or ethnicity, it’s all under the guise of “student achievement”. Surely they must have a working framework to define the term. Yet it’s nowhere to be found.
In lieu of a concrete definition, which, one thinks, should be required for a term that attained ubiquity across Ontario’s education system, perhaps a teacher is expected to cobble together some kind of amorphous metric of what “student achievement” is on an individual basis. I’ve been told for years that a diploma is important, so let’s include that piece. I’ve been sold on the corporate stock ticker stats of EQAO scores, so we’ll assume those are important too. I could throw credits in there as well, but credits are a subset of the diploma, so we’ll assume you can’t have one without the other. And while EQAO was originally a subset of graduation as well, the Ministry has found ways around that, so we must consider it on its own. In reality then, if we are to parse down “student achievement” for the purposes of this Ministry and this Bill, we are left with two things: a diploma and EQAO scores.
To test any definition, one should reach for the parameters and exercise the tolerances that constitute it. For instance, if a diploma is our first indicator of “student achievement”, doesn’t that mean a student with ten or twenty marks of 50% on the way to a diploma has met the criterion? Are grades even relevant any longer, or have credits been reduced to pass/fail? Is a student with twenty credits at 50% someone who has “achieved”? If so, the Ministry of Education can incorporate a very simple baseline into a standardized definition. But the Ministry always said that Level 3 or mark in the “70s” is the provincial expectation. Does it make sense that a student can achieve by getting a diploma, yet not meet the provincial expectation? It’s quite unclear as to which direction the Ministry wants to go with respect to including credits in any standard definition. If accumulated credits become suspect, then doesn’t that make the resultant diploma suspect as well?
Credits aside, EQAO scores must surely be an indicator that can fit into “student achievement” definition with little to no fuss. We should simply be able to assume that passing the EQAO tests must be good enough for “achievement”. We should be able to assume that, but we find it difficult to do so, because, as a teacher, EQAO tests are insulting to my profession. The Education Quality and Accountability Office, by its very name, suggests educators are not doing their jobs. At some point in recent history, someone at the Ministry of Education became convinced that teachers, educating students, and evaluating their work by attaching a grade and associated skills wasn’t good enough. Surely teachers couldn’t be trusted with education, and there had to be a way to tell if students really weren’t getting the education they deserved.
There’s a subtle irony in that the EQAO evolved out of fears of inconsistency about education in Ontario. The selfsame EQAO scores which now prompt visions of administrative career advancement and under the guise of “student achievement” goals have prompted a fear on behalf of education workers in Ontario about state of education.
And so we’ve come to the real crux of the issue: in talking of “student achievement” very rarely does one speak of education. People talk of scores, stats, credits, diplomas and, in the end, far fewer people are concerned with a student’s education than a student’s stat sheet. I’m not a math teacher, but two simple equations are clear to me: Achievement does NOT equal Education, and Data Collection does NOT equal Learning.
I was incredibly disheartened, though not very surprised, upon perusing a draft of the proposed “Learning for All K-12” document that came across my desk a couple of weeks ago. While I’ve never been a fan of “Deming’s Disciples” of education that formulated the Effective Schools movement’s “Learning Communities”, backed “No Child Left Behind” in the United States, and are rife with quotations in the draft document, at least they spoke of “education” and “learning”. Yet, in the document, the Ministry has chosen to place their “Achievement Agenda” language side by side with these sources as if to co-opt their credibility. We cannot make achievement equal education by proximity of words on a page. Achievements are trophies earned at the end of a process. Education IS the process. To place more importance on the trophy than the process is demeaning to all education stakeholders.
Education workers are providers, mentors and facilitators of education. We are not stock brokers trying to maximize a student’s EQAO number so we can “buy low and sell high”. We don’t treat student learning as graphing points; we view it as a process. We are loathe to reduce a year’s worth of dedicated curricular efforts to help educate students down to a data-inspired administrative-mandate of “let them redo one assignment, so you can let them pass the course”. Finally, and perhaps seemingly contrary to tone of my submission to this point, while we don’t really see a need for this soon-to-be-enshrined undefined term, we are actually all for students meeting whichever nebulous definition of “achievement” is the order of the day, as long as it’s measured on the back of true learning and real education and not at the expense of it.
I get that Thanksgiving, for whatever reason, is anticipated annually because of a day off, a celebratory meal and often hours spent wasted watching bad football games. While I don't think I have a real appreciation for the traditional/historical aspects of Thanksgiving that are supposed to inspire me, I am certainly not above giving thanks to all the people, places and things that help make my life better every day.
My podcast becomes story time this week, as I tell you the tale of how the US DMCA was used to takedown a post on the lovehatethings blog because it contained someone else's words, originally posted on a Government of Canada website, commissioned to garner public input on upcoming copyright legislation.
A great time capsule look at the Canadian view of hockey in 1953. Not much has changed. NHL training camps are opening. My hometown of Hamilton is getting screwed over for a team once again.
That aside, this short film gives insight on ice makers, junior hockey, equipment costs, and minor hockey teams featuring the legendary Jean Beliveau's transition from the Quebec Aces to the Montreal Canadiens. Some great early slo-mo sports coverage that's over 55 years old. Incredible video quality as well!
"Professional hockey's a more than 7 million dollar a year business!"
This Leslie McFarlane film is presented courtesy of nfb.ca - the National Film Board of Canada.
As a follow-up to my recent post on a response, my reply to a comment made on a statement I made on the copyright.econsultation.ca website about a week ago, I present the next response from someone else who misread my original post and my subsequent reply. All comments are presented unedited.
Her reply after reading my original post, the first commenter, and my reply back (all of which can be read by clicking the above link):
not really- I don't think contentcreator misconstrued. that's how I read it too. if we've misconstrued, by all means, clarify.
and if you think that the 'marketing' as it pertains to artists at the levels where this issue really matters - the ones who have to figure out 'how the F*&k do i try to make enough money to put music out- record a record, pay the studio & musicians and press the thing... even gas to get to the next gig- is separate from the music, then it would make sense as to why you think most musicians are no better than your neighbor or cousin- because you have spent very little time or energy considering your premise.
Insulting, and ignorant, in the classic sense of the word. the artists who are not already established (read- backed by corporate $$), do their own marketing and it's 75% of the work. Which is why your neighbor or cousin- whose talents you so dearly admire- aren't doing it. It takes a passion and dedication that defies logic.... and money, for god's sake.
yeah, sure, art has always existed- but art always had it's patrons who helped finance the artist while they created. The wealthy gave money to artists (as opposed to making money off of artists) because it was the honorable, ethical thing to do and because if they didn't they'd appear crass and cheap.
even touring in Europe you find more generosity towards the artist- for example, after finding out you are a musician, they don't immediately ask you what your day job is. North America has cheapened it.
You're right though- art was always available to the masses- for free. but there were mechanisms in place to allow that to happen.
look at radio. free. but there are mechanisms that are respected and hold broadcasters accountable. If someone is making money off of art and that money is bypassing the artist, that's the only issue I see mattering.
it's just, who? the recordable media producers? the internet service providers? the advertisers who do their advertising because free content draws hits to the sites?
we send people to space, I'm sure there's a way to figure it out.
regardless, the rights of the creator has to be acknowledged- things are changing and writers and creators of all disciplines need to be protected.
man. how the hell do you expect us to eat? marketing is not worth that much to you... worth what?! what have you paid?
personally I think there are a lot of people making money off of 'free' content before it ever gets to the user and they are the ones who should pay... but before you start talking about 'entitlement' consider what you are saying you're entitled to... free access to art at the cost of the artist.
My reply back to her...
My original comment was misconstrued in the sense that the point was about the presumption that copyrighted/industry music was being presented as the hallmark or Canadian culture. The secondary assertion was that art will always exist (even without monetization), and that to imply "professional" artists are necessarily better (or produce better work) than the "amateur" up the street is arrogant.
From those ideas, the first commenter implied that I was somehow all for stealing copyrighted work, that I was implying he should get ripped off, and that I said it was "easy to make a living writing or singing". I never said ANY of those things. That the original commenter and yourself are bringing those suppositions to argument is at once, telling, and, I suppose, not unexpected considering the venue.
I spent years playing in various bands across Ontario for little to no money and never would imply that the effort or drive in monetizing artistic talent is anything less than exasperating. It's the reason I chose to not do it for a living. But don't, for a second, try and make a logic leap that by not choosing to monetize my music anymore, I'm somehow less passionate or talented than anyone else. Not having a passion for business does not preclude abandoning passion for the art.
Choosing to spend money on recording, promoting, and touring is an investment you're making in a life YOU choose to follow. You're banking on your ability to sell your talent like a commodity and are taking the same risks as someone who pours money into research for an invention or buys a stock. You're letting the consumer market decide your monetary reward. And while I hope that you make millions, if no one wants to listen, your bottom line will be less impacted by copyright thieves than your ability to market yourself. Your music may be brilliant. And while you have a right to sell and buy your product as demand dictates, and protect your copyright to boot, you have NO right to expect to make a living from it and NO recourse if you're just simply decades ahead of your time or increasingly derivative and mundane.
With regard to your historical diatribe about patronage and "free art for the masses." Let me first preface by repeating (again) "I NEVER SAID I WANTED TO PIRATE COPYRIGHTED MUSIC OR TAKE MONEY FROM YOU!" Secondly, I'm thinking that the key divide between my original post and your interpretation is with regard to contending definitions of art. Art doesn't have to be "free to the masses" for it be art. Further, art can be locked up in a room for a hundred years and never see the light of day while still being art. The intrinsic value of art, for me, does not rely on the number of consumers ingesting it. While I understand that the entire mechanism around "The Arts" as a monetization industry does revolve around this concept, and that to monetize art does depend on consumers, I have no problem with Nickelback and Avril Lavigne making tens of millions of dollars around the world and in Canada. Can't stand the music, but I don't begrudge them making money nor do I plan on ever asking for it to be free.
Next, in considering a couple of your assertions...
Radio is NOT free or it would not exist as mass media. That I give up 10-20 minutes per hour listening to ads is perhaps the most expensive use of my time and the main reason I don't listen to most commercial radio. By the way, someone IS making money off of art that is bypassing the artist: The Record Companies - usually from 90-99% of it!
Where do I get free access to art? Not television, radio, or websites. Contending with ad-based promotion is not free for me. That a hundred thousand musicians choose to put their music up on MySpace and allow Rupert Murdoch to reap the benefits is not my fault or choice. If you can get money from him, be my guest, or take your music down from his site. If a musician puts music on MySpace it's for one of two reasons: 1) to share it without expectation, or 2) to use the service as a promotional tool - that's called a commercial and there's an expectation that goes along with it.
I'm curious to know what you consider to be the "rights of the creator" and what "protections" you expect (considering that's what these deliberations are truly about anyway). This discussion would be entirely ancillary to the current one however, as I never questioned creator's rights in my original post.
I have spent plenty of time considering the premises of my original post. Unfortunately you have either categorically disagreed (which is your right) or simply not taken the time to understand it. I'll simplify:
1) Art exists without money.
2) Everyone has artistic abilities to varying degrees.
3) To claim that monetized art, alone, is the core of our culture is at once shocking and repugnant. Marketing should not dictate culture.
Those were the ONLY key ideas from the original post. If you reread it without the hyperbole of the first commenter, you might be able to parse said meanings yourself.
Lastly, while I certainly engaged in a couple of exaggerated metaphors in my original post, I never had the gall to call anyone "ignorant" simply because they disagreed with me. If you note a sense of distaste in the above reply, it is returned in kind. You don't know me anywhere near well enough to call me ignorant, and you surely haven't formed a cogent argument behind your symbolized invectives and personal hard luck appeals to sway me from my aforementioned beliefs.
For almost two decades the CN Tower in Toronto was the tallest free-standing structure in the world. Big money in Malaysia and the UAE has made such a claim historic at this point, but the cool perspective in this pic relays the effective distance from ground to main deck on the tower.
I hope the implication behind many of these comments and responses is not that the only way to have "the arts" in one's life are for them to be monetized. There will ALWAYS be, exponentially, way more free art than commercially-crafted artistic products. Any assertion that even echoes a tone of quantitative value for "the arts" over art makes my skin crawl.
Art will always exist whether monetized or not. Music existed well before ceramic cylinders and oral tradition existed well before summer blockbusters. In both cases performers traveled and made money playing songs and relaying stories passed through generations.
I heard much of this arrogance at the Toronto Town Hall where there was an echoing sentiment that relaxing copyright would destroy "the arts". You know what, "the arts" can take a flying leap off the CN Tower and hope its sense of entitlement will save it - ART will endure.
And before you claim this is somehow too tertiary to the copyright conversation going on here, consider that "the arts" is about persistent PR myth that people who get paid to write or perform are doing something no one else can do. Art does not demand copyright. "The Arts" does.
Are some professional writers better than your neighbour at writing? Maybe.
Are some professional singers better than your cousin at singing? Maybe.
But for most of my life, there's only been one thing that's divided "the arts" from art - marketing.
And marketing is just not worth THAT much to me.
[and after another user replied with...]
Are the staff at your local coffee shop better at making coffee than your neighbour? Maybe.
Could your cousin make you a cup of coffee for free? Maybe.
Would you walk into a coffee shop and leave without paying for your coffee? Not without being arrested.
The difference between coffee made at home and coffee made in a restaurant is debatable, but paying for it is not. Yes, you pay for the marketing there too, but it doesn't change the fact that we pay for the goods, services and intellectual copyrights created by others in this wonderful country called Canada.
Call it Art or The Arts, but I like to be paid for my work. And the idea of wandering around like a busker, hoping someone like you might toss a quarter into my open guitar case is repugnant to me.
If you think it is so easy to make a living writing or singing, why don't you quit your day job and see how long you can pay the bills based on the money you receive after your songs have been digitally transferred for free?
[So I replied back with...]
Before I start, you've misconstrued and misrepresented my original point to where it's unrecognizable in your reply.
I never once said that content creators (no pun intended) shouldn't get paid, or that it was right to take from them, so while I appreciate you speaking passionately about your concern, please do not ascribe such accusations to my post.
My point was not whether I would steal a cup of coffee or not, but rather the frustration at hearing that because I have to pay for it, it's categorically better than what I could make at home.
I could make a living by playing piano and singing. It wouldn't be as good a living as I make now, and it would be a heck of a lot harder, but I could do it. But simply because I choose not to, does not make my playing or talent inferior to those who do.
My entire original premise came from the perceived notion, through the Toronto Town Hall and reading some of the comments here, that monetized artistic talent in Canada was somehow the last bastion of Canadian culture. Also, I object to the idea that a looser copyright system threatens culture.
As much as I hope you become a billionaire at whatever you do and whatever I do, I have no doubt just by sheer probability that many others out there can do what we do both do far better than us. And that's not because I think we're bad, but that I have faith in the hidden talents of a populace like ours.
Culture is not a definable product of monetized efforts. It is an amorphous variable that includes some of those efforts, but also reaches through the skew perpetrated by them and coalesces the rest.
Having the first few minutes at home, in front of my desktop, since attending the Copyright Town Hall Inc. Lobbying Mixer this past Thursday at the palatial Royal York Hotel in Toronto's Financial District, I have decided to construct a blog post/submission to the copyright website all in one. And far be it from me to do anything normally, I thought I would use my words to poke some holes in the common myths that revolve around relaxed copyright legislation.
- You're not an artist, but a craftsperson doing nothing more creative than an assembly line worker cranking out product for money, thus, when the money dries up, so does your "ability".
- You actually believe that someone OWES you a living for doing something you proclaim to LOVE doing. I have written music, plays, essays, articles, poetry for all of my adult life because I enjoy creating. Let me repeat that - I ENJOY CREATING! I wish I could make as much money writing and playing music as I do in my day job, but I've accepted reality and not stopped creating. And before you think you're better than me at writing or music just because your output is marketable to the mainstream, and a suit wants to rake 98% of your money, get your head out of your ass.