Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pascal in person, part one

I had the opportunity Wednesday to escape the newsroom and cover Dr. Charles Pascal's keynote address at the Thames Valley District School Board ed. centre in London. The board hosted an early learning symposium that ran for the bulk of the day Wednesday.
I truly wish I could have attended the whole day, given the other items on the agenda. I'm a big fan of the early development instrument (see previous post) and in a small-world twist, once worked at an Ottawa-area camp with Dr. Dan Offord (who founded the centre that governs the EDI) who passed away in 2004. I am also familiar through my reporting with the Thames Valley Early Neighbourhood Learning Program and the Parent and Family Literacy Centres, both of which were subjects of panels during the day.
Alas, the schedule didn't allow.
Through some persistence (which was actually quite easy) I was able to snag an interview with Pascal after his keynote, which the London Free Press' Kelly Pedro also sat in on (her article published Thursday). While my article on the keynote is filed and will run soon ran Thursday, the sit-down interview will be part of some posts here and also another article for publication in my paper. The post will be updated with relevant links as they are published.
As a starting few quick observations, I found Pascal to be a genuine, passionate advocate for improving how society deals with young children. In the spirit of Dr. Fraser Mustard, Pascal has taken the general philosophy and been heavily inspired by it in his report presented to the premier in June.
The thing he said that almost has me starting a Dr. Charles Pascal fan club however, was mentioned as Pedro, myself and he were briefly chatting in front of the ed. centre as he awaited his taxi.
He encouraged us to keep at education reporting-- noting no Canadian media let education reporters be education reporters long enough to become knowledgeable enough to write authoritatively. Even at the Toronto Star (Pascal's day job, though he remains seconded to as early learning adviser is at the Atkinson Foundation), which has three education reporters they shuffle the deck too often to allow any one reporter to develop the in-depth skills needed to successfully report on the subject matter.
I couldn't agree more. That's why this blog exists, and why it will outlast my time at the Sentinel-Review (whenever that may end) and continue to exist into my next j-job, even if I'm no longer reporting on education for that media outlet. My experiences in my region over the last six years and exposure to the Education Writers' Association conference this past May only serves to prove his point. I was astounded by some of the reporters at U.S. outlets that have been reporting on education in one or multiple districts for ages.
Education reporting in Canada is done so very poorly so much of the time, yet as I've stated here before, education, especially K-12 education, is the one thing everyone has in common because we all went to school.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations and wishes for continued success on your blog.
From the 2,001st visitor!

Uncle Graham said...

keep the Pascal info coming - you may not be in the fan club but I sure am!!

Agree wholeheartedly with your point about the need for in-depth education reporting, something which in many respects requires long years of experience and familiarity with all the players and proposals.