As is usually the case, most news from Canada for CPL centres on Ontario, where Latin continues to be taught, and where the curriculum reforms in the second term of the Progressive Conservative government of Premier Mike Harris work their way through the system. The major change to hit the Secondary School Curriculum in the province was the reduction of the program for the high school diploma from five years to four (IX - XII). Ontario is now (for better or worse) in phase with most other school jurisdictions in North America.
Latin has traditionally begun in Ontario in Grade X, so now a maximum three years of instruction are available rather than four. Thanks to the aggressive enthusiasm of the Ontario Classical Association the new guidelines were produced quickly and with as much rigor as the new curriculum templates would permit. Latin is secure in these new arrangements. It came as a major disappointment then when the Ministry of Education suddenly and arbitrarily removed Classical Civilization from the menu of approved courses for the diploma. That decision produced an avalanche of faxes, calls, e-mails and letters (many from the ever-reliable CAMWS battalions) in protest. It was clear that during the validation stage of the new Latin curriculum every university professor participating urged the reinstatement of CC. The cancellation was rescinded for grade XII, whose courses were saved. The minister has gone even further, in fact, and it is official that CC courses in other grades can be maintained on a "local interest" basis. This is all more that a "Pyrrhic" victory! To ALL who wrote and lobbied for this return to sound education policy in Ontario, OCA and CAMWS join in expressing their profound gratitude.
An important outcome of all these political tribulations is that the OCA is now a subject council of the Ontario Teachers Federation. The Association will be taken very seriously in future curriculum negotiations and policy decisions relating to our discipline. The OCA and the Ministry of Education will be collaborating on a training video for teachers of the Classics in Ontario. CPL members with expertise and experience in such a productions are invited to contact the president of OCA, Margaret-Anne Gillis (see below).
The 31st Ontario Students' Classical Conference for 1999 was held at the University of Guelph, organized by Bishop Strachn School in Toronto. Five hundred participants explored the themes related to the Classical Underworld. A new event, competition in Latin conversation was organized by U of G professor Padraig O'Cleirigh, and was a huge success.
The implementation of Ontario's new curriculum, the introduction of the 85-Factor for full retirement benefits and the natural retirement rate of teachers are onerous burdens for the existing secondary school Classics programmes in Ontario. The new curriculum, which is being phased in over the next four years, preserves Latin, ancient Greek and Classics alongside the other subjects. We are desperately trying to find young Classicists who are interested in teaching these subjects at the high school level. The OCA has joined forces with the Faculty of Education at the University of Toronto to offer a pre-service Bachelor of Education degree in Classical Studies: Latin/Greek in 2001-2002, if we can find 20 interested and qualified candidates. Presumably, this will be the only degree of its kind in Canada. If you have very keen undergraduate or graduate students enrolled in Classics who would like a wonderful career in teaching and would like more information about this B. Ed. please put them in touch with the Ontario Classical Association immediately.
Contact: Margaret-Anne Gillis, President, OCA/Barrie Central Collegiate/125 Dunlop Street West/Barrie, Ontario L4N 1A9/(705) 726-1846, Voice Mail 428/FAX (705) 733-0608/E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. This is the first pre-service teaching course to be offered in many years, and bodes well for the survival of Classics in the high schools. At the moment we have more teacher vacancies through retirements than we have qualified classicists to replace them. Shades of the '60s!
O TEMPORA O MORES!