When the class clown is at the front

Over and over, through the nearly 200 pitches for the Toronto Star Teacher Award, one quality kept cropping up: humour, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 30. Why is humour so endearing in the classroom? Is it just dumbing down for a generation hooked on edu-tainment?

Not at all, insists Professor Deborah Britzman, Distinguished Research Professor in York University’s Faculty of Education. Humour breaks the ice “and the classroom can be a very icy place.”

It’s also a very funny place, she says. “All we have to do is remember our own childhood. The class clowns are like the Greek chorus and kids themselves are great imitators, who tend to focus on a teacher’s flaws.”

But humour can also help open up students to a new kind of thinking, she says, and “sometimes it’s the only way into material.” Britzman says humour helps a class relax and be more open, but it’s just one resource. “It’s a means, not an end.”

Police, communities struggle to grasp prostitution ruling

Governments were in disarray and at least one prostitution charge was withdrawn by the Crown Wednesday as the effects of a landmark ruling that decriminalized prostitution in Ontario began to be felt, wrote The Globe and Mail Sept. 30.

The ruling also left police confused and neighbourhoods fortifying to fend off a possible deluge of sex-trade workers.

When the dust settles around the prostitution decision, experts predict that municipalities across the country will pass bylaws and licensing systems based on their own local community standards and political realities.

Bruce Ryder, a professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, said that sex workers are making a mistake if they think that they have been “liberated” by the ruling. “It may even turn out that status quo of legal enforcement could shift into a much more intrusive and detailed system of control,” he said. “Licensing schemes could be highly restrictive and fees could be high,” he said. “Zoning bylaws could be used to restrict bawdy houses to particular parts of a city.”

Confusion reigned Wednesday in Ontario’s law enforcement community. A Toronto Police Service spokesperson said that the force is awaiting direction from the Ministry of the Attorney-General.

The Crown withdrew at least one prostitution-related charge. Alan Young, a professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School who spearheaded Tuesday’s successful challenge, said that one of his law students witnessed a communications charge being withdrawn in a suburban Toronto courthouse on the basis of Judge Susan Himel’s ruling.

Ryder said that police are going to find themselves under intense pressure to prevent a breakout of street prostitution. However, he was skeptical about the prospect of prostitutes taking to the streets to brazenly solicit customers. Police still have numerous charges they can use to control street solicitation, he said – including nuisance charges, traffic regulations and prohibiting public annoyances.

  • Alan Young, professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, spoke about the court’s decision, on AM640 Radio’s “The John Oakley Show”, CFRB Radio and stations in Halifax and Regina Sept. 29.

On air

  • York student Fiona McFarlane, Ernst & Young managing partner, people, spoke about York’s Bridging Program for Internationally Educated Professionals in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and becoming the first recipient of the program’s makeMORE Ontario Connections Award, on CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning” Sept. 29.