Sunday, July 01, 2007

Happy Birthday Canada!

Ninety-nine & nine tenths of my students know absolutely nothing about the country from which I hail (clue on far left) in spite of the fact that more than a hefty handful would give their eye teeth for the opportunity to study or immigrate there. Now this isn't an indictment against Moroccans (see how paranoid hyper-sensitive you've all made me?) but a fact. For the most part, my students don't seem to know a whole lot about any country outside Morocco, let alone the dar al-islam.

Allow me this little digression by way of illustration: last summer, during a summer programme which explored the contributions of several ancient cultures, I had planned a class which discussed, among other things, China's Four Great Inventions: paper, block & movable printing, the magnetic compass, and gunpowder. Teacher, my students tried to reason with me (in a tone that clearly indicated that they thought I was a retard), Muslims invented all of those things. Suffice to say the class was a resounding flop.

How does Canada fare? I once had to draw a moose on the whiteboard in Mr. Cat in Rabat's classroom because his attempts at miming (hands atop his head as antlers) and explaining what the largest extant member of the deer family was to his students were clearly failing. But a dozen Moroccans can be forgiven for not knowing what a moose is. And when a student tells me that Montreal is the capital of Canada, I am no longer particularly surprised nor in the least way offended. After all, how many Americans could answer the question correctly? Or that French is Canada's official language ... or that the second largest country in the world is the U.S.A. not Canada (Teacher, my students try to reason with me in a tone that clearly indicates that they think I am a retard ...) - well, truth is, that one gets under my skin. I've even brought a globe (albeit an inflatable one) into the classroom and pointed maniacally at it screeching : Look! look how big it is!!

So on the off-chance that any of my students are reading my blog today, let me set the record straight:

* Canada is the 2nd largest country in the world by total area
* Canada is officially bilingual (French & English) although only one province is officially bilingual and that is New Brunswick, not Quebec.
* Canada has a Prime Minister not a president.
* Canada maintains a parliamentary democracy but is also a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state head
* Canada did not send forces to Iraq (this for my students who tell me the contrary)
* Toronto is the country's biggest city, not Montreal.
* It is not -14° celcius year-round.

And finally, July 1st is Canada Day - and today, Canada is 140 years old.
Happy Birthday! Bonne fête!


Blogger Reda said...

Maybe Toronto is the country's biggest city but life in Montréal is much more better.
Bonne fête.

9:52 p.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

I made no comment on the quality of life!

10:44 p.m.  
Blogger lady macleod said...

Happy Day and now we all know more about Canada! I have had some lovely experiences in your country, particularly Victoria, and Q is very fond of it as well.

It's not just the geography in the education...Q's well educated Arabic tutor has not only not read Ulysses but never heard of Homer. When I was teaching the Tibetan monks English in Mcleod Ganj India, they had no knowledge of science even though His Holiness is a great fan of scientific theory.

It makes one very grateful for a well rounded education, and there is always so much more for us to know.

11:55 a.m.  
Anonymous Cath said...

How very Bobby Gimby of you!

3:04 p.m.  
Anonymous LANGUAGE ALERT said...


It makes one very grateful for a well rounded education, and there is always so much more for us to know.

It makes one very grateful for a well rounded education, and there is always so much more for one to know.

6:56 p.m.  
Blogger knarf said...

Your last "paragraph" (the bullet point one) reminds me of The Molson Canadian rant by Joe Canada.

Ironically, the actor who played Joe is (you guessed it) - American...


Good post, Cat. Happy Canada Day (I've finally stopped calling it Dominion Day) back at you and Mr. C in R!

Props all 'round!


12:31 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, Knarf, the actor was born and raised in Truro, Nova Scotia. He now hosts two programs on History Televison - Things That Move and Ancestors in the Attic.

2:42 p.m.  
Blogger knarf said...

How ironic!

The production company that does those two shows, Primitive Entertainment, are clients of ours. We have delivered many envelopes and packages WRT those shows.

Sorry to have mislead you - I have to admit, the "actor who does Joe Canada is actually an American" thing is an unsubstantiated rumour (perhaps even an urban myth by now) that I passed on without checking my authorities.

Please accept my apologies, and thanks for setting me straight.

I assumed, and when one assumes...

4:26 p.m.  
Blogger ~ Ms. Cute Pants ~ said...

From one Canadian to another: Hope you had a great day!

4:55 p.m.  
Anonymous ByronB said...

Happy Canada Day!!! (Bit late, I'm afraid.)
Ah, 1867, a good year...

7:58 p.m.  

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