Saturday, January 31, 2009

O Shut Up Already, Canada!

I've been really trying to ignore the whole kerfuffle over the anthem-less school in New Brunswick, but it's getting hard to concentrate with all the SHRIEKING going on. So, a few thoughts:

1) This school stopped singing the anthem over a year ago and nobody noticed or cared.

2) Judging from some of the commenters here and elsewhere who are blathering about our glorious history and traditions, people are either very young or have incredibly short memories. 'O Canada' has been through a lot of changes over the years, and only became our official anthem in 1980. That's the same time the lyrics were changed to include the 'God keep our land' line.

3) This had me giggling:
A cursory survey of schools across the country shows that Belleisle is one of many where students don't sing the national anthem daily.

In British Columbia, morning renditions of O Canada are so uncommon that principals there can't fathom what the Belleisle hubbub is all about.

“I was surprised to hear that the daily singing was still going on,” said Brian Chappell, principal of Harwin Elementary School in Prince George. “We stopped doing it a long, long time ago. I think that's pretty standard throughout the district and the province.”

The reaction was similar in Alberta, where school officials said morning anthem policies vary from school to school. Terry Young, president of the Canadian Association of Principals, said singing of the morning anthem is so rare as to be “a non-issue.”

4) In amongst all the flag waving and rabid nationalism, a voice of sanity:
nicole lorusso from Canada writes: Singing O Canada does not make students more patriotic. I have taught at schools where the anthem has was sung daily and at others where it was only sung at sports events. Secondary students most often considered it a tedious task that was so overdone it completely lacked meaning or significance. I think the practice of singing it daily is done to pacify those at the school board offices rather than to inspire patriotism.

If you want students to care about their country and to value the privilege of being raised in such a phenomenal country, then have them discuss and analyze issues in the classroom. Students love to have the opportunity to voice their opinions and debate issues. It is amazing what they discover through those debates. The best lesson I had on the Canadian identity and patriotism came from a morning when I let my students vent their anger and frustration on being forced to sing the national anthem every morning. Their conclusion... that day's discussion was more inspiring to them and made them think more about what it meant to be Canadian than an entire year of singing the anthem.

And that's the last word.


  1. I do think that "O Canada" is a beautiful anthem. At the same time, making students listen and sometimes sing it is not going make them love Canada any more than they do now. I can only imagine the monarchists wanting "God Save the Queen" sung in our schools. Sorry, it ain't gunna make me into a qweeny lover. That being mentioned, I do support the monarchy so long as the king is I. Other than that, I support republicanism (with a small r).

    I, too, have seen schools overseas where students do not perform daily national exercises. They seem to love their countries as we Canadians do here.

    If the politicians want to improve Canadian civics in students, I suggest that they improve Canadian democracy first. A little proportional representation may help as a start.

  2. The "O Canada" discussions remind me of Dalton McGuinty in Ontario implementing the 20 minute Daily Vigorous Activity (DPA) for the students. Teachers had to find 20 minutes in the day to have their students perform exercises. This had to be taken out of curriculum instructional time. After awhile, they realized that since the students have gym twice per week, they could have three sessions of DPA per week.

    Later on, some teachers place DPA in the last 20 minutes of the day when students have to record their homework in their Agendas, clean the classroom of large pieces of garbage, stack their chairs, and put on their outdoor clothing and shoes/boots.

    There is no DPA police in the Ministry of Education making sure that the students are getting physical exercises.

    Back in the 80's, I like the "20 Minute Workout" on TV where three women wearing leotards stretched their bodies on a rotating circular platform. My teenaged hormones were movin'. TMI.

  3. I don't think it needs to be sung every morning, but it should be for special events, sports, and meeting gatherings, so that people bother to learn it.

  4. I never had a problem with having the national anthem played every morning. Perhaps it's the electronic generation's 2 second attention spans that are the problem.