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Oct 16, 2003

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A compendium of articles that appeared in the media during the last few weeks quoting members of the SFU community.

Computers can't do it all
Kelowna Daily Courier, Oct. 9

Being information technology literate, delegates to the Canadian Banner users conference in Kelowna know all the positives of the internet and effective software application. But the more than 350 college and university staffers who use the Banner computer program for everything from financial statements, human resources and payroll to data warehousing, e-learning and student online registration, heard that computers can't do it all. “Don't let e-learning replace regular schools,” SFU education professor Milton McClaren told delegates. “The classroom can't be beat if there's a good teacher passing on knowledge to students by telling stories that engage students and help them make sense of it.” McClaren adds: “Let's use the computer as an asset to human learning, but not a replacement for group learning or working in the real world.”

School of hard knocks
CTV News, Oct. 4

Critics of tough-love rehab centres say they may be doing more harm than good for drug and alcohol addicted teens. Barry Beyerstein, one of the world's leading experts on the psychology of addiction, is suspicious of centres like the Alberta adolescent recovery centre, known as one of the toughest treatment centres on either side of the Rockies. “Whether these things even work in the long run or not, I don't think these groups have done the necessary follow-up to see that a lot of things work in the short run, but wear off once you're outside the very strictly regimented and controlled environment,” he says. “As a researcher I want to know what percentage end up being helped, as opposed to the many I've seen who have been psychologically damaged by it.”

Parents killing children
Victoria Times Colonist, Oct. 3

The unprecedented mass murder of six children by their father in Quatsino on Vancouver Island last March has people contemplating the unusualness of parents killing their children. Father Jay Handel was recently convicted of six counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. Revengeful rage against his estranged wife, whom he believed was having an affair, provoked Handel to commit the murders. SFU criminologist Neil Boyd says such anger is common in cases where fathers kill their children. “Women tend to kill children more out of a sense of despair. Men tend to kill out of a sense of anger or payback, an ‘I will hurt you for hurting me,' thought process,” says Boyd. He notes revenge against the spouse accounts for half of the cases in which fathers murder their children.

Children's reading skills dropping
Vancouver Sun, Oct. 3

The latest portrait of B.C. children's reading skills has parents worried and demanding teachers and the provincial government do more to help them succeed. Recently released results from the 2003 foundation skills assessment found that roughly one-quarter of B.C. students are not reading at their grade level, and that reading levels of Grade 4 students declined from 23 to 20 per cent in the last year, despite efforts to improve early literacy. While parent and advocacy groups suggest better teaching is the answer, SFU dean of education Paul Shaker says societal factors, family income and parental education have far greater influence over student success. “If you tell me the postal code, I'll tell you the rate of success,” says Shaker. “That's not to say we can't compensate for some of what's coming to us, but there are limits.”


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