Too Far From Perfect: A Father-Daughter Conversation About Public Education

Too Far from Perfect: A father-daughter conversation about public education

Self-published, 2013
ISBN 978-1-9919727-1-5 (print)
ISBN 978-1-9919727-0-8 (digital)
$15.99 (print) $8.50 (digital), 92 pp., adult

Tai was a grade 12 student in the public system in Toronto when she and her father, Charles Pascal, an OISE professor and former college president, published this book. It is an extremely personal effort, which begins with Tai’s reflections on why her favourite teachers were important, why others failed as educators, and what impediments are inherent to the educational bureaucracy. Then Charles explains his own hyperactive elementary years and his interest in advocacy (his colleague Michael Fullan succinctly describes him as an “interventionist parent”) before the book becomes a shared conversation that unfolds over four more chapters. Topics covered include Reggio Emilia, recent changes to early learning in Ontario, the importance of feedback for educators, the role of principals, and the essential elements of teacher training. I have to admit I find aspects of this book a bit problematic. For example, it is a very Ontario-centric work that covers a variety of important topics (such as tenure at university or the nature of teacher training) in a superficial way. On a more positive note, Professor Pascal is an amusing writer and Tai’s stories of her time in the public education system certainly ring true.

Clearly, the audience would most likely be teachers and parents from Ontario who are interested in educational issues. Excerpts (such as the chapter “Getting Closer to Perfect”) could be used in B.Ed. programs or even principal courses to foster debate about who should really become a teacher and how ongoing professional development can be fostered.

Review by George Sheppard.

This review is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s Sept/Oct 2015 issue.

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