I made the mistake of walking away from Oh Canada during a conversation. I don’t respect the training in conformity and patriotism (a trait second only to religion for inspiring war) that the Oh Canada ritual provides. This and other similar patriotism rituals like the US pledge of allegiance have no more business in the schools than the old religious pledges that we used to have to mumble as kids, not knowing what we were even saying. In my opinion, Oh Canada is an important brainwashing technique, and trains us to love our country regardless of the actions done in our name by the government and its unending bureaucracy. This ritual trains us in blind obedience. The end result is that we are comfortable dismissing real insanities like the political party whip, a true destroyer of democratic representation. With blind love for our country we can ignore insanities of our government, thinking of them as yet another facet of Canadian values. It is training to not question the system imposed on us.
I know that I am extremely isolated in my distaste for Oh Canada, and I haven’t figured out a good strategy for dealing with it. We’ve been trained to respect it with so much force, regardless of there being no good reason to do so, that breaking with the convention unfortunately upsets people when they see it done. Once I came to the conclusion that Oh Canada should not be respected, it was hard to fight the training in conformity that I had been subjected to. It would be much easier to just stand and pretend to like it, and let the old feelings of patriotism back in, but I feel I have a moral obligation not to do so.
Unfortunately, walking out on the go-to-war-for-country song, interrupted my conversation with Mr Dixon (Unionville public school principle) on the more important topic of some bizarre multiplication techniques that are being taught in fourth grade, techniques that have the side effect of severe confusion, and making mathematics suddenly a hated subject, where it used to be loved. This hatred is coming from a boy with a natural aptitude for numbers, who for example, memorized 50 digits of pi in three days just for the sheer pleasure of doing so. Because of the effort of trying to keep the “four multiplication methods” all straight in his head, he’s not sure how to do the most important of them all: the standard multiplication technique that has been the workhorse of paper multiplication for hundreds of years before these bizarre teaching ideas invaded the curriculum. I recall when my kids came home with these techniques. They had the good sense to go through the motions mechanically and forget about them after that. To spend all this effort just for the best case option of having all the kids that learn it forget it after the test is nonsensical to say the least. But when it also has the side effect of destroying love for the subject, it is unforgivable.