Saturday, September 20, 2008

CCK08 - Monique Bégin

I have no way of judging whether Connectivism is a learning theory or not but I suspect that George Siemens and Stephen Downes are beneficiaries of an attitude Monique Begin has fought for over the decades - that we all gain when the doors of possibility widen. Perhaps George and Stephen will only get a moment in the sun but it is a moment with potential to create a further widening in the door. I suspect some people need a map to find Manitoba and may find that alone a hurdle as compared to an idea springing from Oxford or Princeton.

Monique Bégin has worked tirelessly to improve the educational and health possibilities for Canadians who otherwise would have marginalized and streamed into a life of limited possibilities. Before the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, women were either ignored in Canadian textbooks or they were consumers not originators of ideas or they were helpers not leaders. The Royal Commision on Learning confirmed what poor mothers knew all along - that two children of identical intellectual ability were being streamed differently based on the economic status of their parents. A child from a poor family was subtly encouraged to get job skills in high school whereas a better-dressed, more affluent child was more likely to be encouraged to not limit their choices by pursuing less academic courses.

Does anyone know where I can find a collection of Begin's speeches and writings? Search her name on Wiki or try using google search to find a website devoted to her writings. The most obscure performer has a longer writeup. How can someone so outstanding be so obscure? How can someone who has effectively done so much to improve the lives of so many not be more widely known? Her work totally changed my perceptions of myself and totally changed my children's perceptions of their potential as well.

If you don't know who she is, here's the writeup from the World Health Organization.

Dr Monique Bégin is from School of Management, University of Ottawa, Canada. A sociologist, Dr Bégin was the first woman from Québec elected to the House of Commons. Re-elected three times, she was twice appointed Minister of National Health and Welfare. She remains best known for the Canada Health Act 1984. An academic since she left politics, Dr Bégin taught in Women's Studies at Ottawa and Carleton Universities.
Monique Bégin co-chaired the Royal Commission on Learning of Ontario and served on the International Independent Commission on Population and Quality of Life. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, she received several honorary doctorates in recognition of her contribution to human rights and to public policies. In 1998, she was invested as Officer of the Order of Canada.

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