Friday, May 4, 2012

The Absurdity Continues

I feel just a tad guilty writing this post today, given that world events are of their usual dire nature, the slaughter of protesting Syrian students by a brutal and repressive regime not the least of them. Nonetheless, I will deal briefly with a more parochial issue, the brutal and repressive regime operating out of the Toronto mayor's office.

As I am sure the details of the confrontation between Rob Ford and Star reporter Daniel Dale are now well-known, I won't rehash them here. The mentality of the mayor, however, got me thinking about my 30-year teaching career, and I realized that Ford reminds me very much of some of the students I encountered during that career.

While the vast majority were good kids, there were always those who believed the rules weren't made for them, that the normal standards of decorum didn't apply, and that respect for institutional traditions was for others to follow; they laboured under the delusion of having a special dispensation from them. Needless to say, these tended to be kids for whom academic success was elusive.

The problem these students posed for the classroom dynamic were significant. Their presence tended to contribute to a lowering of the tone of discussion and in the behaviour of their fellow students. Oftentimes, their parents were enablers, attempting to bully teachers into accepting their rather warped view of reality. In short, they were the kind of people who attempted to exert a disproportionate influence over the classroom which is, among other things, a microcosm of society.

So in many ways, Rob Ford is like those errant students of yesteryear - he defines reality and the rules by his own worldview; like a wanton child, he is having a tantrum as he threatens to end the public's right to information about the goings-on at City Hall unless a reporter he takes exception to isn't removed from the City Hall beat; he is enabled by a family member, brother Doug; to conclude, the mayor is a disruptive influence on the rest of the citizenry.

It is sad that today when I opened The Star I was confronted on the front page by what should be a trivial matter, while important issues such as Dalton McGuinty's political machinations and Harper's move to limit democratic debate on the omnibus budget bill are pushed to the inner pages. Like those pesky students of my earlier life, Rob Ford is disrupting our larger classroom once again.

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