Re: “No TLC for THC as cannabis curtailed in county’s rural zones” in The News’ March 26 edition
I commend Amanda Kutzand her allies for their persistence and work to curtail cannabis facilities in the county. I have great empathy for their struggle.
But it is curious that when the verysame arguments were presented to this council (and previous councils)against development in Bremner,they were not enough to stop that reckless, costly plan.
Eight residents spoke and another eight provided written submissions on the cannabis issue. How many spoke against Bremner? 75-plus written submissions were received before the Bremner Area Concept Plan public hearing.
The News headlineMay 24, 2019 read “Majority of residents at hearing tell council to stop Bremner.” Only three residents and five developers spoke in favor of the development.And yet Ward 4 Coun. Bill Tonitainsisted that most residents were in favor of Bremner and that those in attendance that night did not represent the “silent majority.”He was jeered by the audience of frustrated, angry residents for thatclearly inaccurate assessment.
Last month, Ms. Kutz expressed the opinion that “the local development system is set up for developers who have deep pockets for lawyers, not for residents who care about their community.” I agree. Council voted to move ahead with developing Bremner, siding with developers and business. Where was their willingness to listen to residents on the issue?
Jacquie Fenske, who fully supported Bremner when she was on council in 2006, pushed back against cannabis facilities, reminding the currentcouncil that protecting agricultural land is outlined in the county’s strategic plan. Where was this concern for prime agricultural land when she had the power and the responsibility to protect thousands of acres of it in Bremner?
Ward 5 Coun. Paul Smith, speaking of landreclamation, said; “You can’t just dump a bunch of soil back and expect to grow crops as productively as before.”
Again, one of the very arguments made over and overto support preserving Bremner’s prime farmland.
Mayor Rod Frankcorrectly summarized the cannabis hearing this way; “Residents need to be respected and effective stewardship of resources needs to be upheld.”
Yes. Every single time.
— Lois Gordon, Bremner
Coding in classrooms
As has become the norm, I was deeply embarrassed to see the latest comments from members of our government. The UCP’s curriculum review is a shameful attempt to scrape together something that serves little purpose other than not being the NDP’s. But amidst the mind-boggling and ridiculous inclusions, one comment from Education Minister Adriana LaGrange stood out above all others.
When asked about how to teach coding for students in classrooms that aren’t properly equipped with computers, LaGrange responded that “it’s not necessary to have all of the technology in place: some of the key principles about coding are things that can be done with paper and pen.” While not technically false, this answer shows a deep misunderstanding of both coding and pedagogy.
Programming is a combination of the arts and sciences, and requires both knowledge and practice. You can’t learn to code without doing it and running it on an actual computer. To code is to tinker, to test things out, and to compare your assumptions to the actual output. While you may be able to write code on paper, you can’t engage with it in a meaningful way.
The “guess and check” model of coding I’ve just described isn’t something new or the result of lazy or under-educated programmers. Alan Turing himself, one of the first and most famous coders, wrote at length about his process, and described how he would make assumptions, run his program, and see how his assumptions compared to the actual output before going back to tinker with his programming. This process of working and learning through experimentation and educated guesses is as old as computers.
In his book The Language of New Media, media theorist and Computer Science professor Lev Manovich talks about learning to code as a teenager in the 70s in Russia, and describes the frustrating experience he had learning to code by writing programs down in his notepad and having the teachers mark them.
After two years’ learning without access to a computer, Manovich was finally allowed one chance to enter a program into a computer for his final project. Because he’d never worked with a computer before, he didn’t know that the letter O and the number 0 were different keys, and his program would not run. The only time he actually used a computer in his programming class was an abject failure, one that he didn’t get the chance to repeat.
While computers are easier to access nowadays than they were in the mid-70s, it’s still important to remember the lesson of Manovich’s frustrations: coding is an interactive process, and without a hands-on approach, students may never understand core concepts of programming.
If we don’t give our students the proper resources and instead give them a hastily developed curriculum that exists primarily to reject what the NDP had developed before, they will not learn, and they will not thrive.
LaGrange’s comments are symbolic of the failures of this curriculum review as whole: the UCP weren’t thinking of how best to educate our children and what resources they would require; the UCP simply wanted something that was obviously different from what the NDP had done, our children’s futures be damned.