Calculus on math
Re ‘National Emergency’ As Canadians Fall Out Of Global Top 10 In Math (Dec. 3): You report “alarm bells” and a “national emergency” at the “poor” results of Canadian students’ performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment.
How’s that? The average score among the 65 countries in the math assessment was 494. Canada had 518. Averages in reading and the sciences were well above the OECD averages as well.
To describe our international math performances as “poor” is disingenuous. Although improvements can always be made, the Canadian educational system continues to be in the top 10-15th percentile worldwide.
How about a pat on the back, not a kick in the pants to our educational system?
David Kerr, Wolfville, N.S.
Some advice about the low Canadian scores for math: Teach arithmetic (and call it arithmetic – it is not math!) in the early grades. Many young children are scared of the word “mathematics” and never get over it.
Gordon Rogers, B.Eng., P.Eng., Toronto
How seals die
Re Hunting For Logic In The WTO’s Seal-Hunt Ruling (editorial, Dec. 2): No evidence, my foot.
Watch seal hunt videos, if the hunters will let you. Many animals are clubbed bloody, only to crawl off the ice to die or suffer for hours. Many are wounded, not killed, by a bullet fired from a bouncing skiff in the high seas by untrained shooters. They escape to die a slow death.
This process shames Canadians, because no government dares to incur the anger of Maritime voters, and for no other reason.
Clayton Ruby, Toronto
The smarts on IQ
Re IQ Is The Last Taboo (Dec. 3): Margaret Wente relates Boris Johnson’s theory that intelligence accounts for the income gap. Wealth and influence are both inherited, probably to an even greater degree than intelligence itself.
The reason for the growing wealth gap is simply the growing absence of legal and taxation mechanisms designed to stem the gross accumulation and inheritance of wealth.
Brian J. Lowry, Fredericton
The assertion that “we’re more or less born with the intelligence we’ve got” shows a shocking lack of understanding of the appropriate use of IQ tests, the meaning of correlation coefficients, and the complex interplay of biology and experience. Discussion of IQ is hardly taboo, but uninformed claims, such as that of Boris Johnson, deserve strong criticism.
Andrew Winston, professor emeritus, Department of Psychology, University of Guelph
Re Low Voltage Policy (Dec. 3): The Globe continues to suggest that renewable energy is the primary driver behind electricity price increases. Earlier this year a report from Navigant consultants, using IESO data, clearly showed that nuclear and natural gas projects are behind the vast majority of rate increases.
Logic, common sense and independent research be damned. The focus continues to be on new and unfamiliar green energy projects, still just a small part of our energy mix. No matter that wind and solar significantly reduce harm to our environment for a rapidly dropping price, they will take the fall once again and can be found under the elephants in the room.
Adam Scott, Climate and Energy Program Manager, Environmental Defence
Split on the Greens
Re It’s Time For The Green Party To Pack It In (Dec. 3): It’s all well and good for Lawrence Martin to say the Green Party should pack it in, but the only way I would agree is if we threw all the political parties in the dustbin. Until that time, we need the Greens.
The Green Party is the only party that consistently advocates for life on this planet, for electoral reform and co-operation among the parties. The Greens will continue to play a critical role. Without the Greens, why would anyone bother to vote at all?
Farley Mowat, Port Hope, Ont.
No matter how the Greens try to justify their existence, the reality remains that their main impact on Canadian politics is enabling the election of a government whose policies are effecting irreversible damage to the environment and the climate.
Until Canada moves to a fairer voting system, it’s time for the Greens to realize that their efforts are entirely counterproductive.
Joel MacDonald, Regina
Lawrence Martin neglects the whole swath of Canadian political parties by aiming at the Greens for vote-splitting. Logically, if – it’s a big if – his argument works, then the vote-splitting between the NDP and the Liberals is much more damaging. Which party should call it quits?
The Bloc, not running any candidates outside Quebec, will never form a national government. Should it, too, pack it in?
The ultimate conclusion of Mr. Martin’s argument would provide Canadian voters with the same bi-partisan reality of political gridlock that affects our neighbours.
Instead, why not reform the electoral system to reflect the real political desires of Canadians? Or do our leading parties realize the losses they would incur under a proportional representation system, and will they, as always, do nothing to limit their own disproportional influence in Canada?
Steve Ellement, Hamilton
Re Back In The USSR? (editorial, Dec. 2): You say Ukraine faced a choice between becoming another prosperous, democratic Poland, and another basket case.
I think it was more like a choice between avoiding a long, cold winter by paying cheap gas prices to Russia, and joining an austerity-ridden, economically unstable EU. Ukrainians have every reason to fight for democracy and modernity. However, the main players – Russia, the EU, and Ukraine’s political establishment – weren’t prepared to help Ukrainians achieve their aspirations.
Ali Orang, Richmond Hill, Ont.
Re What Midwives Earn (letters, Nov. 30): Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews references government increases for overhead and liability insurance, which don’t add a penny to midwives’ actual salaries, while ignoring the real issue: pay equity. The fact remains that midwives are paid much less than male health-care professionals with similar responsibilities and skills.
Dale Hildebrand, Toronto
Re Let’s Move The Needle On Corporate Jargon (Report on Business, Nov. 30): These eminently sensible recommendations should be embraced going forward.
Louis Desjardins, Belleville, Ont.Report Typo/Error
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