The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on June 4, 1998 · 28
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The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada · 28

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Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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Thursday, June 4, 1998
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28
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THE CITY EDITORIAL PAGE C4 THE OTTAWA CITIZEN THURSDAY, JUNE 4, 1998 OUR TOWN A 1 i y lis H Kim Tysickhas certainly made an impact in her 10 years as an employee of Heritage College in Hull. She's the originator of an annual awards banquet that is now in its ninth year . The event brings together 400 faculty and students for an evening that includes a talent show and awards honouring student achievement. Her work at Heritage College recently received national recognition when she was given the staff excellence award by the Association of Canadian Community Colleges. Ottawa Citizen photograph by Rod Maclvor Computers in classroom to stay "any teachers hope that computers in the classroom will turn out to be an education fad. They will be dis appointed. Computers will be an .essential tool for education in the next century. The notion that they will supplant teachers or the classroom, however, is absurd. At the national academic conference at the University of Ottawa last week, Raymond Neff, vice-president of the private Case Western University in Ohio, said computers work wonders in schools. The Harvard-educated, business-suited professor presented evidence to substantiate his thesis. One irate Canadian academic in the audience called his talk "rubbish," so he must have hit a nerve. What Mr. Neff reported was that the integration of computers into courses at Case Western over the last decade has dramatically increased student achievement. Before computers were used to teach a first-year physics course, 21 per cent of students failed the mid-term exam and 39 per cent of students failed the course. With computers, only one student in 720 failed the mid-term and one per cent failed the course. He reported similar successes in other subjects. Students gradually became more vocal in discussions of literature, after using electronic mail to have their first discussions. A French course saw performance improvements after students used the Internet to read daily French news reports. A sophomore math course that once had a failure rate of 84 per cent now has a failure rate of less than one per cent. As Mr. Neff said, "I'm not talking about subtle effects here." Just because computers are shown to be an effective learning tool, however, does not mean that we should buy all that the technology champions say. Mr. Neff talked about college students being "customers," of the need to customize the learning package for each student through technology. "I'm telling you what students want to buy, what product they want," he said. He applied the business-seminar lingo to libraries, saying the essence of the library of the future will be "information delivered just in time." He spoke approvingly of how "total quality management" is one of the hallmarks of this age. On the weekend at another U of O seminar, academics talked about how the classroom of the home would all but replace the traditional classroom through technology. This view of education as a business and technology as all-powerful should not be accepted. Computers can be superbly effective instruments, especially in subjects such as mathematics, where they allow students to practise in a way traditional classroom teaching cannot. The possibilities for boosting students' interest in subjects such as history are endless, given the huge information storage and recently improved graphic display capabilities of computers. They will never, however, replace the focused energy and occasional deep emotion of a university seminar. They will never replace a great teacher who guides discussion and study, taking into account the human reactions of students that cannot be communicated electronically. They will never replace the peace of the reader and book in a quiet room. The interaction of students, on a campus far from the work world, will always be an enriching experience for the learner regardless of how advanced the "electronic learning environment" becomes. A university education, especially in the humanities and social sciences, will never be memory work drummed in with computer tutorials. A computer tutorial will never inspire students. Like the telephone or any other tool, computers are used brilliantly and stupidly. In these early years of Internet exploration many teachers and students have been frustrated by the speed of the technology or shortcomings in the computer setup of a particular school. As with any education content or technology, success often depends on a clear focus and plan. Students must know where they are going and how to get there. The success of computer usage at Case Western could have a lot to do with the fact that integrating computers into courses required much careful lesson planning. There are huge, practical questions that have to be answered on computers and schools. How do teachers and professors cope with being on call around the clock through e-mail? How do schools cope with the rapid obsolescence of machines and software and the need for constant training? How do schools fight plagiarism when downloading of material is so easy? There is no doubt, though, that computers are wired to the classroom for good. Air show celebrates weapons of war By Richard Sanders I was a little surprised to see photographs of some of the world's deadliest war planes in the Social Life section of the Citizen (June 1). Because the nuclear and conventional weapons delivery systems depicted in "An Air Show Portfolio" are designed to destroy societies, one might assume that they would not be the objects of celebration. Perhaps if parents knew more about the horrific tasks which these war planes are designed for, they - would not bring their kids to see them "perform" stunts or be exhibited like works of art. However, as the Citizen has also reported, this may be the National Capital Air Show's last year due to a $500,000 debt blamed on bad weather. As we say farewell to the air show, we should examine more carefully the planes highlighted in the Citizen's "Portfolio." The B-i Lancer, reflected artistically How to contact us For suggestions about photographs for this page, inquiries about freelance articles or comments on our editorials, call City Editorial Page Editor Randall Denley at 596-3756. The e-mail address is rdenleythecitizen.southam.ca and the fax number is 726-1198. in the sunglasses of its pilot, is a high-altitude, supersonic U.S. aircraft capable of intercontinental missions. It can fly over 11,000 kilometres without refuelling and can carry 84 conventional bombs. Capable of carrying a variety of nuclear bombs, it is an integral part of the U.S . nuclear fighting strategy. Each B-i costs more than $200 million (U.S.) It was used most recently in the war against Iraq. That war began with one of the most intense aerial bombardments in history. Contrary to Geneva conventions, planes deliberately destroyed civil infrastructure such as water purification, sewage treatment and power generation facilities. The war, coupled with economic sanctions, is now estimated by the UN to have killed 1.5 million people. The hardest hit were children, comprising 80 per cent of this mind-boggling death toll. Children are most susceptible to the epidemics which ravage the country in this "biological war." Children are also among the most susceptible to air shows. They are easily drawn into the awe, wonder and excitement of the spectacle. This is shown in two of the Citizen's photos. In one, a young boy atop his dad's shoulders covers his ears from the noise. Another photo shows a father and young son staring intently into the exhaust port of an F-16. This raises another area of concern, namely noise and air pollution. The noise pollution was probably evident to most Ottawans who could not avoid the thunderous planes. And for exhaust fumes, the F-16 burns more fuel in an hour than the average U.S. car does in an entire year. Another war plane at the air show was the A-10 Thunderbolt. The Citizen's picture snapshot shows two young men examining what was described as its "business end." This phrase makes light of the A-10's gatling gun, which is the largest airborne machine gun in existence. It fires 62 projectiles per second. The Citizen article also mentioned that spectators took shelter in a cargo plane to avoid the elements. To me, the real air show on Sunday was the incredible thunder storm. This powerful display of natural air power proved more effective in closing the weekend's air show than the 25 supporters of the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) who braved the rain and wind to distribute thousands of leaflets. COAT volunteers also took refuge in the cargo plane. Wearing T-shirts emblazoned with Central American children's paintings of aerial bombardments, we became a roving gallery of war art. Ironically, although surrounded by weapons delivery systems, we were considered a threat to security and were expelled from our temporary shelter. The Guatemalan and Salvado- ran children who created these paintings had faced much worse. They had been forced from their burning villages by the hundreds of thousands. Many Latin Americans, fleeing war, came to Canada as refugees. Thousands now live in Ottawa. COAT worked with many of these refugees to oppose the air show. Imagine their surprise to learn that all of the air force generals of North, South and Central America are in Ottawa this week for their annual conference. The arms trade, which the air show facilitates, has helped put many a poor country in debt. As the former UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar once said: "The arms trade impoverishes the receiver and debases the supplier. There is a striking resemblance to the drug trade." The air show is a case in point. It is indeed bankrupt, not only financially, but morally. As COAT continues the battle to make Canada kick the arms trade habit and help children withdraw from their addiction to entertainment fuelled by violence and war, we will celebrate the air show's imminent demise. We are indebted to Mother Nature's brilliant show of air power for our victory party! Perhaps, it, too, will appear in the Citizen's social pages. Richard Sanders is coordinator of the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade. i ' r ' ' 1 ; ' S .V; ; i. yy) j L -infill h r ii' tf&ifl ' "nth ni Urn n mi Michel Lapalme The outaouais Landscaping local history On many occasions recently, the E. B. Eddy Forest Products Limited has made it clear that it does not want to give an inch of its property in the Chaudiere Falls sector, even if that compromises a collective wish for the whole area. Whatever happens there, this company position is understandable. If E. B. Eddy is to stay there, it wants to keep its options as open as possible. If removed, even in parts, it wants to push the land value as high as it can. In both cases, it makes sense to speak of expansion of its work force of 425 people and of its most recent investments. Then, last week, E. B. Eddy announced its decision to tear down the old B paper plant in Hull, its oldest and most visible building to make room for, of all things, some landscaping. What sense can we make of this? Why did the company chose to do this precisely now, when the National Capital Commission is on the verge of presenting a plan to emphasize the historic value of the area and its old buildings? In order to make this announcement at this time, the company had to cut short some recent discussions with the mayor of Hull regarding this site. The argument used by the company to defend its decision is a bit embarrassing for the National Capital Commission. They are the same arguments the NCC used in the '80s when it decided to demolish the Daly Building at the entrance of Sussex Drive. Unused and unloved, but long preserved in the name of history, its maintenance and security costs had become too high to prevent demolition. As proposed now by E. B. Eddy, the Daly building was replaced by landscaping. The structure that E. B. Eddy intends to demolish is no more elegant than the Daly Building ever was. The age of its stones is its main feature. Its flat walls, coming down directly on the sidewalk, support two lines of plain, rectangular windows under an almost straight roof. Many would call it ugly. The structure has been vacant since 1991. To make things more difficult, the next structure on the same site, one that E. B. Eddy intends to renovate (built in 1892 compared with 1870 for the targeted building), is adorned with a beautiful Mansard roof which could enhance any environment. Thus, one can easily jump to the same conclusion as E. B. Eddy: Let's save the building that is more elegant and in better shape. But the E. B. Eddy site also contains a a great part of Hull's history. The structure to be demolished is the second oldest in the Chaudiere Falls area. Its historic value has often been singled out. Considering the industrial importance of this whole area in the development of the capital over the last 150 years, and considering the work already done on some of the old surrounding structures in order to preserve this link with our origin (at the Mills and on Victoria Island), any construction of importance in that area is touched by the mantle of history. Some heritage enthusiasts have been calling for a museum devoted to the lumber industry of the last century in the very building to be demolished. More recently, others have been talking of a historic gate to the restored falls. However, there is a big difference between this and the Daly Building story: The B paper plant is not in public hands, but remains the property of E. B. Eddy, which has to foot the maintenance and security bills. Should we impose on E. B. Eddy the preservation of the building when no one imposed it on the NCC under similar circumstances? The NCC, despite all its major projects in the Chaudiere Falls area, has not come to the rescue of the B plant yet. If we want to speculate a little more, we can even ask ourselves what the NCC would do if it owned the structure. Whatever the answer to these questions, the timing of the E. B. Eddy move remains very strange, especially when the company has no replacement project at all. The only visible benefit for the company is that when it is gone, no one will ever be able to use it in any manner. Is this a way to save a few metres of land? If that is the attitude, it may well force us to raise still more questions about the company itself. Is this the kind of company which brings the best value to a unique national site? And does it maintain its industrial activities in a manner consistent with the ethics of the 21st century? Or does it want to show us what the ethic of the lumbering industry was in 1870? Michel LaPalme is a Hull writer.

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