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PostPosted: October 15th, 2021, 9:14 am 
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You may be right, I have friends who work in the TDSB, none that are involved with canoe programs though, and I know they face unique challenges.

The days of school based canoe clubs might be coming to an end as well, but I think its important to stay optimistic, so we don't scare away new "recruits". In the 30 years I was involved, there was always some kind of problem from above that had to be dealt with, and it took a lot of persistence, and caused many stressful days. I hope that future teachers who want to get involved don't get scared off, and I hope that Boards don't put excessive roadblocks in the path, although I know that is already occurring.

Our program has been inactive for two years due to Covid, so there is that too.

Anyway, I guess we will see what happens down the road, my guess is that many schools will not get a program going this year either, due to the Covid regs, and that combined with everything else could be the end of many programs.

Damn, I guess I'm not optimistic anymore, lol.


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PostPosted: October 15th, 2021, 10:12 am 
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I will reiterate my position on the swim test too...it doesn't have to be an equity issue. If a kid can't pass it, do the sensible thing, take them on a trip appropriate to their skill level and make them wear a lifejacket when in the water. Or lose the equity issue all together and make everyone wear a lifejacket when in the water.


RHaslam, I agree with your above quote. But the problem is that it doesn't reflect what was in place for the case at hand, where anyone not passing the test without a PFD could not participate on a trip. That rule was a bad one for the Toronto audience, and so put the program/teacher in an awkward starting spot. Agreed it doesn't have to be an equity issue, and I'm glad the rules/guidelines have been adjusted, but at the time of this trip, it was an impractical rule and an equity issue.

Here's hoping that schools will continue to offer such trips for all kinds of kids forever, P.

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PostPosted: October 15th, 2021, 8:32 pm 
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yarnellboat wrote:
My concern about slow-learners is for the rule-makers. In the case of a school trip like this, there should be no need for any decisions about which rules to follow.


if you consider administration the 'slow learner', imagine what you consider the teacher.

sure, in a sense, there should be no need: in ideal world you'd feel great following the rules you are following. but if rules were immune to being disliked (since they're so 'obviously appropriate' in the eyes of all the followers) there would be no rules in the first place.

the idea or expectation, that 'rules are subject to the follower deciding whether to follow them' reaches for nothing, except a world where there are no rules.

the rules are there to ensure that teachers do things properly, since their profession is not (at all) oriented to leading city kids on 5 day wilderness canoe trips.

doesn't mean you can't find rules which you can argue do not belong. you will, it's inevitable. if you don't, someone else will. otherwise we'd be in the situation stated at top.

every system has rules; it's not uncommon that several is seen as either too weak or too strong. a nail always hammers down a bit crooked. but there should be no such thing as a teacher deciding whether they will be following the rules.

i get the impression that you think that's all fine, from your wording "need to decide whether to follow". they don't need to. they just don't. if something is a rule, it's to be followed. needing to be followed. there is no 'Need to decide whether to Need to follow it'.

there is no choice onto the choice.

if teacher dislikes rule, he/she may challenge it at administration level (just as with any system), but they do not challenge it by blatantly ignoring it, at the possible expense of youth safety. not expense, but possible expense.

they go through the formal process, have it evaluated by the highest and most involved rigour, not by the clicks in their own private mind. we saw where such clicks got us.

if your position is Not either of these, then you can disregard the above post:
'teachers should be free to decide which rules to follow' & 'rules should be of such a kind that nobody can find in them a flaw'.


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PostPosted: October 16th, 2021, 12:47 am 
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Mostly disregarded. But I do like the saying "a nail doesn't hammer straight".

My position is closer to your 2nd attempt, which I see as kinda the opposite of the 1st. But I don't expect perfection - everyone should be able to put up with some level of sticking to rules they personally see as imperfect, if those rules are for the good of a program/system/society.

But, the degree of imperfection must meet some minimum level of aligning with a program.

We're not talking in theory; we're talking about the swim test rules that were in place at the time of this trip for this school. The rule (anyone failing a swim test, without the use of PFD, couldn't go on the trip) was so far out of alignment with this trip's audience and the purpose of the program (and equity/inclusivity goals) that it wasn't workable from the start.

(Just addressing the rule that existed. Leaving aside uncertainties about different roles for enforcing it, and lack of clarity about whether the youth in question may or may not have passed, and other specific decisions about the actual swimming/drowning.)

It definitely would've been 'more correct' to follow the rule and just never offer trip in the first place (or to only let those who passed a properly administered swim test participate). But I don't think that's the 'best decision', save for the benefit of hindsight, and obviously the decision-makers at this school felt that too.

So, I'm sympathetic on the part about the teacher (and principal) allowing the kid to participate. And I don't like it that unrealistic rules can be in place to protect a broader organization and its board members, thereby shifting/creating risk for leaders/teachers (i.e., making it easier for an organization to throw its staff under the bus - "But they didn't follow our [unworkable and unclear] rules!"]).

Yes, bad rules should be identified, challenged and changed through a clear process. But it seems that frequent, timely and clear rule changes are just as rare as flawless rules.

Rules can drift from the goals they are supposed to support. A lot of processes to change policies are complex, long, and unclear/inaccessible. Often they require assembling a critical mass of like-minded supporters, and convincing people who see things differently, if you get their attention at all. It's not quick or pleasant work to add to a workload. So, lots of people understandably can't or don't take on rule changes as part of their day-to-day, and that only gets brought into check after an accident puts things in the spotlight - if the judgements, analyses and reactions go well, as opposed to a knee-jerk cancellation of all programs/risk.

In this case, the rule that didn't align with the trip goals or audience put the teacher/program in bad spot. But that's just one unfortunate bit of the larger unfortunate story here, and probably not among the most significant mistakes (and I understand it's been corrected).

P.

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PostPosted: October 16th, 2021, 5:38 am 
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this seems to be the core of your message

"It definitely would've been 'more correct' to follow the rule and just never offer trip in the first place (or to only let those who passed a properly administered swim test participate). But I don't think that's the 'best decision', save for the benefit of hindsight, and obviously the decision-makers at this school felt that too."

alright, so we agree with each other. but hang on, what do you feel is the 'best decision'? because my position is that the best decision is the 'correct' one.

"So, I'm sympathetic on the part about the teacher (and principal) allowing the kid to participate. And I don't like it that unrealistic rules can be in place to protect a broader organization and its board members, thereby shifting/creating risk for leaders/teachers (i.e., making it easier for an organization to throw its staff under the bus - "But they didn't follow our [unworkable and unclear] rules!"])."

where'd you find out this teacher was trying, with this trip, to promote equity?

as opposed to, just had no regard for the rules? just wanted to jump bus for that blast again, like many teachers in various schools wanting to share that thrill with all their class. when i took TO schools on trip, teachers were sometimes like youth. that sort of 'lets party hard, no purpose except play'; 'vacation for all, better than school!' attitude. sometimes the youth were more reflective & teacher-like than the teacher. so even though our goals were related to equity i don't know what his goals were for this trip. he may have just wanted to rock out big trout with his fun class. did you read about what (his) purpose was for that trip? where?

something off i think, about saying "this unrealistic rule was made by board to protect themselves, causing & shifting a risk to teachers IF teachers violate the rules pertaining to IF they take kids on trip. what? first off, it's not 'objective' fact that the rule was improper. rule was conflicting with a (not trip specific) goal in general -- equity. many feel that rule was wise, especially if long trips or frequent ones. i feel same way about swimming ability. regardless what people can feel, that rule got adjusted to support equity more so than safety. for better or worse.

second, the fact that the board is saving its ass (by making "unrealistic rule" (that's debatable, not fact)) does not mean they are creating risk for teachers, any more than the teachers created the risk by deceiving that board by pretending the rules were satisfied. there is no 'shift' or 'creation' of risk from board to teacher, any more than from teacher to his own self. board is protecting board, period. doing their part, just as if they themselves ran that trip. this thing about 'shifting' risk to teacher is totally out of line. there is no shift, there is only conditions that were setup on the prospect of trip in general.

it's funny to call someone's rule a risk imposed on you, when that imposition does not actually occur unless you decide to break the rule lol. don't you think so?
sure, a rule may not align to your feelings about how things should be, but that non alignment does not make it so that the risk was imposed on you by the board.

suppose your feelings were aligned. in that case, the board no longer imposed any risk on you. yet, the board did nothing different lol.

board ensures everyone is 'on 'board'. they're saying "you want to take our kids on this multi day remote canoe trip thing? hmm, OK, as long as x y z are satisfied -- do we have a deal?". what's the problem? the teacher, on the other hand, has some secret personal feeling about how bad x is, and chooses to deceive that board and pretend that x is met when not met, and then goes on that trip as a blatant violation of the agreement.

not saying his violation can't be appreciated. it can be depending on his motive. but How does the above lead you to think along such lines as "that board created the risk For the teacher". What? you make the teacher sound like a helpless puppy stuck to a chain in a burning house, subject to onslaught of risk. don't you know that puppy did something to clip that chain around his own neck? and lit the match?


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PostPosted: October 16th, 2021, 9:24 am 
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I think 'the best decision' is to offer such programs to as many youth as possible, including non-swimmers. And I think it's especially relevant where a significant portion of the population may not be swimmers. I believe a rule that didn't allow for that stood an elevated and foreseeable risk of not being followed.

I am assuming when this school allowed kids who hadn't passed the swim test to still go on the trip, that fairness, or equity, or the value of the experience, however you want to frame it, was a factor - because that rule wasn't realistic for this school/population/program.

I also think that that particular decision, which was against the rules (guidelines? I'm not certain that was clear) was not a major point in the drowning. There were other ways the swim should've been managed, and that where I see more significant problems. I believe that's basically what the court decision says.

My comments on shifting risk I recognize are a slippery grey area with no way of agreeing where to draw the line in different scenarios, but as I see it, if management sets up rules that are known to be almost impossible to implement in practice, then it potentially shifts liability to staff in the field. Yes, to get in trouble about those rules, people did have to break/bend the rule in the first place, but if was totally foreseeable that an impractical rule didn't align with the program realities, and therefore had a predictably high likelihood of being bent or broken (or possibly even a "standard practice" of ignoring the unrealistic rule), then that's not a great situation. I think applies to that swim test for this school. But it's been changed. And it was never the biggest problem anyway.

I wasn't there. I don't know the teacher. I'm not a judge, I don't have all the facts. So, we're making assumptions. It's entirely possible that if I knew all the facts & details, I'd easily land on a decision that the teacher was cowboy who loved to ignore rules and take stupid risks. It's also entirely possible that if I knew the teacher I'd find he was a committed volunteer and a respected leader, and for reasons I can't know about the specific details of the day, of the moment, that an accident happened. I don't like speculating much on the guy's motivations, style, skills or other details I can't know.

P.

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PostPosted: October 16th, 2021, 6:36 pm 
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yarnellboat wrote:
I think 'the best decision' is to offer such programs to as many youth as possible, including non-swimmers. And I think it's especially relevant where a significant portion of the population may not be swimmers. I believe a rule that didn't allow for that stood an elevated and foreseeable risk of not being followed.

I am assuming when this school allowed kids who hadn't passed the swim test to still go on the trip, that fairness, or equity, or the value of the experience, however you want to frame it, was a factor - because that rule wasn't realistic for this school/population/program.

I also think that that particular decision, which was against the rules (guidelines? I'm not certain that was clear) was not a major point in the drowning. There were other ways the swim should've been managed, and that where I see more significant problems. I believe that's basically what the court decision says.
P.



i very much agree with your position, just some subtle places where i deviate i think,
thanks for sharing your thoughts on this,


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PostPosted: October 22nd, 2021, 1:03 am 
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I recently took an "Advanced Wilderness First Aid" course with the Red Cross. Most of the folk (including the instructor) on that course were highschool teachers or Scout leaders. They had some interesting perspectives on this case. We even studied a few case reports and discussed them, but not this one - it's just too soon.

The "swim test" boils down to "swim around this bouy and back". Maybe 50 metres. If you need a lifejacket to do it, oh well, you still managed it. It's really all about confidence in the water.

But for me - I just don't see the point in a swim test if you can wear a lifejacket while you do it. It encourages teachers and leaders to ignore it. It becomes normalized deviance. I still think the "swim test" is stupid - just a way for a bunch of bureaucrats to cover their asses. The reality is that kids will come whether they can swim or not, or else such excursions will be exclusive to the privileged.

We covered another case, a couple of girl guides who paddled out for a picnic lunch and drowned. It rocked the Girl Guides. I do not doubt that this case will have a similarly seismic effect.

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PostPosted: October 22nd, 2021, 6:11 am 
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The Girl Guide story you are referring to was probably the one in 2004, and it was another case of poor choices by the leader. Initially there was some fallout, but it didn't really make it to the high school regs.

It is important to understand the difference between inclusion and a poorly run trip.

It is also important not to classify kids who can swim as "privileged". I can guarantee you that the vast majority of my kids have been far from privileged.

Anyway, for the arm chair experts out there, get involved with a canoe tripping program that involves taking kids in the bush, spend a few years doing it. Get as many kids out there, as safely as you can. That's the beginning of inclusion, because it can't exist if no-one is doing it.


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PostPosted: October 24th, 2021, 11:12 am 
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canoetripper wrote:
SNIP SNIP
With every reg followed a kid could still drown and you're into a lawsuit. Or trip on a portage and break their back. We had people sign a waiver of course but a lawyer in the club said it meant nothing.
SNIP SNIP


Is there a knowledgeable lawyer in the boathouse?
ISTR a case in the 1990s - maybe ww rafting in BC? - where there was a fatal accident and the company was sued. The court found that the participants had indeed signed a waiver, and even if it was on the back of the form it was there and referred to from the front by the signature, and they could have read it. They could have made the choice to reject going on the trip under those conditions, but they did not. Further, the waiver included a waiver from liability for negligence. And so the waiver was upheld on all counts and the operator not found liable.

In my work as a regulatory analyst we generally held, based on advice from lawyers in the relevant jurisdictions, that a well written waiver signed voluntarily was largely good for what it covered. Is there a lawyer in the canoe?

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PostPosted: October 24th, 2021, 11:23 am 
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As a consultant to regulators in multiple industries, I once put in a report (and quoted for many years after):
"Unenforced laws are unfair to the law abiding."

In this case of the unenforced swim test - whether appropriate or not - I ask what about the kids who saw the poster about the trip and decided not to apply because they knew or believed they could not swim well enough? How many might have tried, but were scared off by that rule, not knowing that if they were bold or clueless and applied, they would get pencil-whipped through? As a generally law-abiding individual I try always to be concerned about these effects. Required rules and regs, and then supplementary guidelines and considerations, need to be well considered.

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PostPosted: October 24th, 2021, 3:20 pm 
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vpsoccer wrote:
canoetripper wrote:
SNIP SNIP
With every reg followed a kid could still drown and you're into a lawsuit. Or trip on a portage and break their back. We had people sign a waiver of course but a lawyer in the club said it meant nothing.
SNIP SNIP


Is there a knowledgeable lawyer in the boathouse?
ISTR a case in the 1990s - maybe ww rafting in BC? - where there was a fatal accident and the company was sued. The court found that the participants had indeed signed a waiver, and even if it was on the back of the form it was there and referred to from the front by the signature, and they could have read it. They could have made the choice to reject going on the trip under those conditions, but they did not. Further, the waiver included a waiver from liability for negligence. And so the waiver was upheld on all counts and the operator not found liable.

In my work as a regulatory analyst we generally held, based on advice from lawyers in the relevant jurisdictions, that a well written waiver signed voluntarily was largely good for what it covered. Is there a lawyer in the canoe?


Did that case involved adults? In Ontario at least, waivers are different for kids. They have limits. Significant limits. The example of a fall on a portage could lead to a nightmare for the teacher.

Additional note: Even if the outcome of a lawsuit was no fault, in the context of a school setting, the teacher’s career would already have been battered. So even though I completely agree that an accident could be career destroying, say it wasn’t.

Say you are a teacher who does this for fun in their free time and you know that even if the course cass plays out in your favour you will have to go an administrative leave for the length of time the case takes. Would you still want to take kids out as part of your job? Or would you go volunteer somewhere else instead?


Last edited by ChristineCanoes on October 24th, 2021, 6:35 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: October 24th, 2021, 3:23 pm 
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RHaslam wrote:
The Girl Guide story you are referring to was probably the one in 2004, and it was another case of poor choices by the leader. Initially there was some fallout, but it didn't really make it to the high school regs.

It is important to understand the difference between inclusion and a poorly run trip.

It is also important not to classify kids who can swim as "privileged". I can guarantee you that the vast majority of my kids have been far from privileged.

Anyway, for the arm chair experts out there, get involved with a canoe tripping program that involves taking kids in the bush, spend a few years doing it. Get as many kids out there, as safely as you can. That's the beginning of inclusion, because it can't exist if no-one is doing it.


Respectfully, there are different elements to privilege. So both of the following can be simultaneous true:

- Kids who swim have a certain type of privilege.
- Kids who benefit from certain types of privilege can also be disadvantaged (or unprivileged) in other ways (I.e. socioeconomic )


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PostPosted: October 25th, 2021, 10:25 am 
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Not being familiar with Toronto, I have to ask a couple of questions for those in the know.

When many kids try out for a high school sports team, but only a certain number are needed, are kids still "cut" based on ability?


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PostPosted: October 25th, 2021, 11:34 am 
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With the glaring caveat that I am not a high school sports coach, my experience is that quite often lesser skilled children will "make the cut" when they show the motivation necessary (say perhaps a student really wants to be on the school volleyball team, but has never had a chance to play before), or perhaps as an extra/substitute, but that yes, they are indeed cut based on ability.

Once you start getting to the city run peewee leagues, it's a whole other ball of yarn. The competition to get your kid on those teams can be vicious for some sports, and the cost of equipment is indeed a very limiting factor for a very large number of kids. That's where schools try to narrow the gap.

If I understand where you're going though, this isn't an entirely apt comparison. A sports team can have "backbenchers" - kids who don't get rotated in often, but for whom a coach very much wants to provide an opportunity. A canoe trip has no such concept. Also, those children who were cut can still play the sport they were cut from, albeit not at a competitive level with other schools. A wilderness canoe trip, on the other hand, may be a child's one chance in a lifetime to experience such a thing.

When I mentioned "privileged" children, I should have been more clear I suppose. My intended point is that a program designed to provide opportunities like this for those who would never otherwise have them should not be excluding those who never had the chance to learn to swim. While clearly not everyone who can swim is "privileged", I think it's fair to assume that socially disadvantaged children are disproportionately over-represented in the set of children that cannot swim. The rule has the effect of amplifying that disadvantage - in direct contradiction to this program's stated goals.

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