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Is there any place in school for enjoyment?

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Wow, did that escalate and spiral out of control at warp speed.

Friday, I saw on Twitter that a teacher I’ve met and interviewed was all upset with a story I’d helped write about businesses and schools and other places that were letting people watch the Canada-U.S. men’s hockey game Friday. Included was mention of public school divisions that were leaving it up to schools to decide; in some cases, the superintendent was encouraging that students be allowed to watch.

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This teacher was appalled at the notion. The teacher said he’d be upset as a parent if a teacher was letting his kid watch hockey instead of teaching her to read.

I thought there’s room to let kids enjoy a special event. I made an allusion, somewhat sarcastically, to Sept. 28, 1972.

The teacher came back and said he’d prefer to spend the time helping his students develop critical thinking about what the Olympics are really all about. Good idea, I’d certainly go for that, would encourage all teachers to do it at an age-appropriate level, but the week has another 165 hours in which one of the biggest hockey games of the decade is not being played.

And back he came suggesting I care nothing about the oppressed in Syria, Ukraine, Russia, and elsewhere.

I didn’t respond — I just let that last one sit there in cyberspace and be RTed and favourited.


Back in the day, people would have talked about taking time to stop and smell the roses. I think there’s room for us to stop and have a little fun and feel a little joy; indeed, I think we might do a better job of saving the world if we allowed ourselves a little enjoyment along the way.

One of the many, many reasons I never became a senior manager in newspapers was the heresy I uttered over the decades about my believing that people could do better work in 60 hours than in 90, and that people who had time for a personal and family life performed their work better than those who were told that work is everything. The principle here is the same, at least it is to my deluded way of thinking.

I don’t think that the kids in Manitoba who watched that terrific game Friday, or who watched the women’s even more incredible game Thursday, while they were in school, will turn out to be less-educated or less worthy as citizens.

And yes, I do care about the oppressed in Syria and Ukraine and Russia, and have cared about the oppressed a lot longer than that teacher has been alive.


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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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