Thursday, June 10, 2010

Crunch that celery! Quebec teachers union uses unorthodox tactics in work-to-rule campaign

A splinter Francophone teachers union, the Federation Autonome de l'Enseignement (FAE), has been in the headlines around here lately due to an ongoing contract dispute with the Quebec government. However, the union has made the news today for another reason: a controversial handout on pressure tactics that was leaked to Jean-Luc Mongrain, a populist TV host who is famous for his tirades (here's a good one about a man who was fined for feeding a squirrel).

The handout is pretty interesting. It begins with a directive in caps--"IT IS VERY IMPORTANT NOT TO MAKE PHOTOCOPIES OF THESE STRATEGIES OR TO OTHERWISE CIRCULATE THEM." This is followed by 30 specific ideas for teachers to disrupt meetings with school administrators. Each strategy has its own name.

A few of the more interesting/extreme ones:

1. Operation "The administration is blinding me."--All personnel wear sunglasses during the meeting.

4. Operation "I'm burning calories."--All personnel should munch loudly on celery throughout the meeting. Eating celery burns more calories than you're taking in. Crackers, carrots, or other noisy foods can also work.

10. Operation "We speak good French here."--This is a matter of continually correcting the administration's usage of French--whenever they make an error, you say, "What you want to say instead is..."

19. Operation "Gilles Latourette."--During the meeting, you take turns making random gestures like raising your hand, shaking your head, rocking in your chair, etc. You can also add some words to your gestures by saying random things.

22. Operation "I do the wave."--In turns, during the meeting, move your chair back and forth, cough, raise your hand, etc. Regardless of the method, it's a matter of enacting a magnificent human wave which will submerge your administrators. Do this wave many times throughout the meeting.

Mongrain's reaction to the list is here. As you'll see, he re-enacts several of the strategies for his viewers. His line is basically that these strategies are unworthy of the teaching profession. It should be noted, however, that Mongrain is not exactly what one would call a fountain of innovative educational commentary.

Personally, I have to admit that I find the idea of doing the wave during a meeting kind of fun.

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