Dr. Patrick Ryan

Discussion Questions

One-tenth of your course mark is based on your submission of answers to the weekly study questions to OWL, and your prepared participation in class.  Please do not email your study-question answers to me.  

Your answers should be as brief as you can make them.  Treat these like notes to help you remember what the articles are about, and as if you are studying for questions that might appear on the final exam - because that is what you are doing. 

Bring your written answer to class, because we will work with them.  The goal is to help you better understand what you are reading, and to work toward a successful exam result in April.


Week 1.1 - Jan. 15 -  "The Landscape of Modern Childhood"

Andrew Rehfeld, "The Child as Democratic Citizen."

1. Provide the page and line numbers for two places where Rehfeld delivers his thesis - or main idea.
2. List three ideas that Rehfeld has for increasing the political participation of young people.  What do you think of these?
3. Briefly explain 'fractional voting.'
4. Locate the places where Rehfeld uses 'political maturity.'  What assumptions does this phrase carry about the relationship between political debate (or choices) and human development?
5. Write a question or comment of your own about the reading and come prepared to share it.


Week 1.2 - Jan. 22  -  "Children's 'Rights' and a review of the CRC"

Clara C. F. Aroni, "Child Justice in Canada and the Four Ps: Protection, Prosecution, Prevention, and Participation,"
and United Nations, Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) (read the entire document).

1. Provide the page and line numbers for two places where Aroni delivers her thesis - or main idea.
2. According to Aroni 270-171, where and by whom are children most likely to fall victim of physical and sexual violence, and what does the way the law categorizes (names) this violence tell us?
3. According to Aroni 274-275, what four features of foster care conflict with the best interests of children?
4. Write a question or comment of your own about the Aroni reading and come prepared to share it.
5. While reading the UN CRC, pick one article of the convention that you think embodies children's rights to protection, and one article that you think embodies their right to participation.  Note the numbers of these articles.


Week 1.3 - Jan. 29 - "Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth, and the Law v. Canada (2004)"

Katie Sykes, "Bambi Meets Godzilla," and SCC, exerpt from Canadian Foundation v. Canada (2004).

1. Write a question or comment of your own about the SCC reasoning as excepted from Canadian Foundation v. Canada.
2. In the provocative, allegorical title to this week's reading, what is 'Bambi' and what is 'Godzilla'?
3. In B.(R.) v. Children's Aid Society of Metro. Toronto [1995], upon what assumptions did the SCC defend parental rights as a 'principle of fundamental justice' protected by s. 7 of the Charter?  (see Sykes, pg. 135-136).
4. What is the key phrase used in s.43 of the Criminal Code, and what problems has it caused in the application of the statute to determine if striking a child was exempt from criminal prosecution?
5. Summarize what the SCC majority opinion said about the meaning of "reasonable" in the statute (s. 43) under review in Canadian Foundation v. Canada, and note what Sykes has to say about each point. 


Week 1.4 - Feb. 5 - "Children, Youth, and Political Participation"

Noel Semple, "Whose Best Interests?"

1. Write a question or comment of your own about Semple's article on child custody and access law.
2. Keep track of the contradictions in the law of child custody identified by Semple; note the page # and the issue.
3. In Canadian chid custody and access law, what has the "Best Interest of the Child" (BIC) test done to both the "tender years" and "parental rights" doctrines?
4. List the things that parents have control over in custody and access disputes, and tell me what its significance might be.
5. What ideas does Semple present for resolving some of the contradictions he identifies, and what do you think of these possibilities? (see Q2 above).


Week 2.1 - Feb. 12 - "Household Production and Children's Work"

Colin Heywood, "Children at Work."

1. Write a question or comment of your own about the historical account of children at work provided by Heywood.
2. This chapter does not have a strong thesis, because it is written mostly in a descriptive mode, but I would like you to note as many passages (page, line number) where Heywood offers an explanation for or the factors that led to the abolition of children's work.  In discussion we will try to list them.
3. Prior to industrialization, what characteristics did child labour have? (pgs. 125-128)
4. What characteristics did industrial child work have?  (pg. 129-134)
5. Name some of the reasons that reformers wanted to attack industrial child labor, and tell me what institution they hoped would replace it.


Week 2.2 - Feb. 26 - "Capitalism, the State, and Child Labour Reform"

Michael Bourdillon et al, "The Politics of International Intervention," and two international conventions ILO C-138 and ILO C-182. 

1. Write a question or comment of your own about Bourdillon's study of recent interventions into child labour.
2. Provide the page and line numbers for two places where Bourdillon delivers his thesis - or main idea.
3. Find the two questions that the authors ask you to keep in mind on page 181; then, refer to the modular question for this part of the course.  You'll see they are closely aligned.  Now, make at least two notations (with a brief comment) as you read where you have found something in the article that you can use to answer one of these questions.
4. Name some of the aspects of PPIC-W that made it different from the child labour abolition efforts recounted from Banladesh and Sialkot.


Week 2.3 - Mar. 5 - "Globalization and Children's Work"

Iven Saddi, "Children's Rights as 'Work in Progress'," and several primary documents: The International Movement of Working Children, Kundapur (1996) and Dakar Declarations (1998); A Letter from the Working-Children's Movement (2002); 3 short documents from the Latin American Working-Children's Movement.

1. Write a question or comment of your own about Saddi's study of working-children's organizations.
2. What does Saddi have to say about rights on page 145, and how might this understanding of them make children's own labour organizations more significant than they are sometimes viewed by those who take the abolitionist approach to children's work?
3.Take not of Saddi (150-151) while you read the Dakar and Kundapur Declarations:  what are some of the common features of working children's declarations?
4. Summarize as brieflly as you can what Saddi says about the reception working children's organization by adults.


Week 3.1 - Mar. 12 - "Mass Education & Progress: The Argument for Public Education"

Rebecca Raby, "Rights and Responsibility "

1. Provide the page and line numbers for two places where Raby delivers her thesis - or main idea.
2. On the bottom of page 328, how does Raby define 'governmentality'? 
3. According to Raby, how do the student conduct codes define self-discipline, and responsibility?
4. Raby finds that conduct codes figure a responsible student as one who abstains from personal vice and follows the rules, and briefly state your thoughts on this point of emphasis.


Week 3.2 - Mar. 19 - "Schooling and the Problems of Power I"

John Taylor Gatto, Weapons of Mass Instruction - Chapters 1-7

1. Write a question about some part of the first 7 chapers of Gatto, and note the passages which inspired it.
2. As you read Gatto, note the assumptions or images he seems to carry about children or youth.  Can you locate any of these in terms of the landscape of modern chidhood?  Make the appropriate notes.
3. For Gatto, what is the difference between schooling and education?
4. What is open-source learning and why might it be important for Gatto?


Week 3.3 - Mar. 26 -  "Schooling and the Problems of Power II"

Gatto, Weapons of Mass Instruction - Chapters 8-Afterward

1. Try to summarize Gatto's thesis statement in your own words in three sentences or less (and note the passages in the book that support that summary).
2. What do you think of Gatto's thesis? - write a very brief answer in your own words.
3. Who could benefit from reading a book like Weapons of Mass Instruction? 
4. Take either questions two or three above, and list three reasons why you think what you think about Gatto's thesis, or why a particular type of reader would benefit from the book.
5. Now, take question four and find two facts or examples from the book that support or explain each of your 3 reasons.

*you may have noticed there is a logic to the five questions this week; they can provide steps for writing a critical book review. 


Week 3.4 - Apr. 2 -  "Schooling and the Problems of Equity"

Marita Moll editor, short excerpts from Ontario resistance in Passing the Test" and Frank Nezvadal, "The Standardized Testing Movement: Equitable or Excessive?"

1. The documents collected by Moll record a series of grassroots responses to the installation of testing in early 21st-Century Ontario (as well as other places).  As you read these documents make a list of things that parents, students, professionals, and other citizens did not like about the testing regime. 
2. Provide the page and line numbers for two places where Nezavdal delivers his thesis - or main idea.
3. As you read Nezavdal's summary of the implementation and critique of EQAO, reflect on your own experiences taking these (or similar) tests.  Which ones ring true to you?  Which ones are you less concerned about?