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Canada Education Wireless Networking

Ontario Teachers' Union Calls For Health-Related Classroom Wi-Fi Ban 365

Posted by Soulskill
from the frying-their-developing-brains dept.
New submitter KJE writes "The CBC is reporting that an Ontario teachers' union is calling for an end to new Wi-Fi setups in the province's 1,400-plus Catholic schools. The Ontario English Catholic Teacher's Association (OECTA) says computers in all new schools should be hardwired instead of setting up wireless networks. The OECTA, in its paper (PDF), said the 'safety of this technology has not thoroughly been researched and therefore the precautionary principle and prudent avoidance of exposure should be practiced.'"
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Ontario Teachers' Union Calls For Health-Related Classroom Wi-Fi Ban

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 13, 2012 @04:43PM (#39024995)

    On your cellphone

    • by Niedi (1335165) on Monday February 13, 2012 @04:54PM (#39025173)
      Naaaah, they don't have that, that's too dangerous... Much safer to stick to your good old wireless DECT (6.0) homephone...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lev13than (581686)

      It's all about the Catholic perspective:

      1. Radio waves that pass harmlessly through your body = dangerous
      2. Omniscient deity that can read your mind and plant thoughts in your brain = safe (good, even!)

      Makes sense.

      • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Monday February 13, 2012 @05:43PM (#39026015)

        Firstly, I totally agree with your sentiment, and it is a shame the folks that modded you today forgot to turn on their sarcasm filter.

        Having said that, look at it from the other side. When I hear utterly asinine stories like this, I agree that it makes me angry and frustrated with the state of the world - but at the same time, I look at the bright side. When I have kids, I will bring them up with good education, critical thinking skills and a solid understanding of science and reasoning - then I happily think about how little competition they will have in the real world when their peers are sitting under desks scared of the "eViL WiFI!".

        While it makes me a little sad to see in this day and age these sort of shenanigans still going on, I can't help but think that my offspring will be like wolves amoung the sheep.

    • by danomac (1032160)

      It's rather amusing that the teachers aren't more educated on this topic.

      There's so many things emitting RF. They're probably like a couple people where I work - they seem to think that if a device isn't on there aren't any radio signals about. I've tried to explain that even if your radio/cell/whatever is off the signals are still in the air and passing through their body. I don't understand why people can't grasp that simple concept...

      • by afidel (530433)
        You're intentionally ignoring the Inverse-square law.
        • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday February 13, 2012 @05:27PM (#39025769)
          Wifi devices generally transmit in the low milliwatt range; compare this with the power used by a typical public safety trunked system (800MHz not 2.4GHz):

          http://www.qsl.net/n9zia/gbtrunk.html [qsl.net]
          http://w8msp.com/Oakland.html [w8msp.com]

          You are probably being hit with plenty of UHF/microwave radiation when you walk near a police station. Not only that, but your body will absorb more energy at 800MHz than 2.4GHz (the specific absorption rate at 800MHz is higher than at 2.4GHz), so you should be more concerned about your exposure to radiation from public safety systems than from wifi.
      • by poetmatt (793785)

        It's called willful blindness, in the case of the teacher's union.

        There's been a lot of research into wifi - not into cellphones, but into wifi? absolutely.

      • by Anomalyst (742352) on Monday February 13, 2012 @05:19PM (#39025635)
        Its been my experience that educators are the hardest to educate. It amazes me that they manage to dress themselves in the morning.
        • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Monday February 13, 2012 @05:31PM (#39025839)

          When I was in year three (That's when I was about eight, not sure what third grade means outside of Australia) I had an amusing argument with my teacher about "geometry". She claimed that if you stood right at the right spot at ground level, you could see all base four corner stones of a square pyramid. The argument ended up with me being sent to the headmasters office because I called her ignorant and facetious, but I did have my sweet moment when the headmaster informed her that she was wrong and that I was right.

          Teachers do think they know it all. I guess that teaching little kids all day every day makes them think they are some sort of fountain of knowledge and information.

          Having said that, I also know a few teachers who are very well informed, intelligent and I would consider all round great people.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 13, 2012 @05:42PM (#39026007)

            This came to mind: http://www.wtfeck.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/mile-vs-kilometre-detention.gif

          • by scrib (1277042) on Monday February 13, 2012 @05:54PM (#39026169)

            Actually, this depends quite a bit on other variables, notably the height of the pyramid. Standing at ground level puts your perspective above ground level. Imagine standing at the middle of one edge of a square pyramid that is 10 meters on a side. Imagine the pyramid is only 1 meter tall. Certainly, you can see all of the corners. Even when the apex reached eye level, because your eyes are offset from the center, you would still be able to see three sides, and thus all four corners.

            This wouldn't work for the pyramids in Egypt, unless ground level involved a pretty big hill...

        • Very true.

          Many to most teachers are very stuck in their ways and do not like trying new things or admitting that they do not know something. My personal turn on the phrase is, "One of the hardest things to do is to teach a teacher." I could go into many reasons for this, but suffice it to say, you are not far from the mark at all. Are all teachers this way? No, of course not. It's not even always a young vs. old divide. I do, however, find that some, if not all, of the "best" teachers are those that a

    • I can only suggest that they watch out for those wired connections in case the cards are in promiscuous mode ;-)
  • by DeadSeaTrolls (591736) on Monday February 13, 2012 @04:43PM (#39025005)
    Take the microwaves out of the teacher's lounges.
    • by RichMan (8097) on Monday February 13, 2012 @04:44PM (#39025021)

      - make them leave their cell phones in their cars

      • by pentalive (449155)
        There are companies that demand that you do not smoke, even in your own home on off hours. Perhaps this can be extended to cellphone use. No Canadian teacher may even own a cell phone, or associate with people who do.
  • by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@@@uberm00...net> on Monday February 13, 2012 @04:43PM (#39025013) Homepage Journal

    Do I really have to say more?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 13, 2012 @04:43PM (#39025017)

    Probably the same reason the word 'nuclear' (as in nucleus') has been dropped from 'MRI'.

  • Ban radios, cellphones, microwaves, wireless phones and anything else that generates radio frequencies.

    This is dumb beyond words. These are the people teaching our children? Could be fun in 20 years.

    • Better start living in underground bunkers to avoid EM radiation from the sun too . . .
    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      In my opinion, this is not even the stupidest thing they've done. We also have race-based schools here now. Of course, being the favoured pets of the provincial premier (who's wife is teacher) have received very large wage increases in his time in office, even as the provinces finances are being flushed down the toilet.

  • by jaskelling (1927116) on Monday February 13, 2012 @04:49PM (#39025085)
    So a Catholic teacher's association is complaining that something isn't fully scientifically researched, documented, and proven? A CATHOLIC association? Galileo Galilei is laughing in his grave right now.
    • by will_die (586523)
      You should do some research on Galileo he got in trouble with the scientists of his day because he was saying to throw out the teachings of Aristotle and go with some that "isn't fully scientifically researched, documented, and proven".
    • by Lev13than (581686) on Monday February 13, 2012 @05:02PM (#39025337) Homepage

      Oh, it gets better.

      In Ontario, Catholic schools are 100% fully-funded public institutions running in parallel with the secular public schools. It's nice to know that my tax dollars are being used to teach kids that gay=bad, safe sex=evil and wifi=devil.

      Other provinces have joined the 21st Century and de-funded religious schools, but all of the political parties in Ontario are too chicken-shit to do the right thing.

    • by Godai (104143) * on Monday February 13, 2012 @05:04PM (#39025363)

      Okay, I know its not fun to hear, but what you think you know about Galileo & the church is more complicated and less fun. From Wikipedia:

      Earlier, Pope Urban VIII had personally asked Galileo to give arguments for and against heliocentrism in the book, and to be careful not to advocate heliocentrism. He made another request, that his own views on the matter be included in Galileo's book. Only the latter of those requests was fulfilled by Galileo. Whether unknowingly or deliberately, Simplicio, the defender of the Aristotelian Geocentric view in Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, was often caught in his own errors and sometimes came across as a fool. Indeed, although Galileo states in the preface of his book that the character is named after a famous Aristotelian philosopher (Simplicius in Latin, Simplicio in Italian), the name "Simplicio" in Italian also has the connotation of "simpleton".[55] This portrayal of Simplicio made Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems appear as an advocacy book: an attack on Aristotelian geocentrism and defence of the Copernican theory. Unfortunately for his relationship with the Pope, Galileo put the words of Urban VIII into the mouth of Simplicio. Most historians agree Galileo did not act out of malice and felt blindsided by the reaction to his book.[56] However, the Pope did not take the suspected public ridicule lightly, nor the Copernican advocacy. Galileo had alienated one of his biggest and most powerful supporters, the Pope, and was called to Rome to defend his writings.

      So while, yes, the Church did lock him up and heliocentrism was at the center of it, it was more about Galileo being stupid in how he wrote his book & the hurt feelings of a powerful man (the Pope). Frankly, no one looked good in that mess. The church was actually one of the biggest sponsors of science back then, something that rarely gets recognized because its so much more fun to set it up as religion vs. science, as if they've been in a death struggle since the beginning of time.

  • by p0p0 (1841106)
    What the fuck is happening to my country? This is the kind of fear mongering and ignorance I'd expect from the American deep south but not in my own backyard.

    Am I going completely mad?
  • Two stories (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Monday February 13, 2012 @04:51PM (#39025117)

    There's two stories here.

    The 1st one is the exoteric "I'm scared of technology" FUD that frankly works pretty well.

    The 2nd one is the esoteric and totally unpopular "I'm sick of kids playing angry birds in class" and "I'm sick of my boss (principal) and/or family and friends IMing me stupid distracting stuff while I'm trying to teach a class" and "I'm sick of the boss using this to track my every digital action and create utterly meaningless dilbertian machine generated metrics to evaluate me on instead of doing real human observation evals" and "I'm sick of square peg / round hole the silver bullet to all educational problems is just add more internet"

    I send my kids to a recently wifi'd school and also have some teacher relatives and option 2 is the reason why they use option 1 as a weapon against wifi.

    See, option 1 works and thats all they care about in a "ends justify the means" scenario. If blaming witchcraft or the spread of communism on wifi worked better, they'd be trying that angle instead.

    • If a teacher can't identify and punish people using their devices in class something is seriously wrong. Either they're lazy, or their class sizes are much to large, or there is a problem with the administrative and parenting levels not backing them up. Like most things, it's a learning experience, kids should learn not to pull out their smartphone when they should be paying attention, and if that means having said phone confiscated for the day/week/month (1st, 2nd, and 3rd strike respectively) they'll le

      • by vlm (69642)

        If a teacher can't identify and punish people using their devices in class something is seriously wrong ... their class sizes are much to large

        Hmm whats the cheapest way to solve this problem. Hire double the number of teachers which at current admin:teacher ratios means hiring double the number of admin personnel in addition, or ... unplug the wifi that serves little educational purpose anyway...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MozeeToby (1163751)

          What you've basically just said is that a teachers have too many kids in their class rooms to make eye contact with each one of them every 2-3 minutes, which is all it takes to tell if a student isn't paying attention and once you know that it's pretty easy to figure out why. If that's the case, doubling the number of teachers isn't just going to solve the 'wifi problem', it's going to improve education as well.

          My point is, WiFi isn't the problem. The problem is kids not knowing how to behave respectfully

    • by medv4380 (1604309)
      Hard to tell if you're right. Option 1 keeps coming up and they always sound crazy. The only story about this that I believe might possibly be true is a community of people that moved out to the middle of no where to get away from wi-fi. I only might believe them because that's the only thing that would work if they were "allergic" to wi-fi.
    • by halivar (535827)

      I'm not embarrassed to say that I only knew what "exoteric" meant because it was Dictionary.com's word-of-the-day.

  • by JBMcB (73720) on Monday February 13, 2012 @04:51PM (#39025127)

    They didn't also require AC receptacle plug covers installed so electricity doesn't leak out of the wall sockets and give everyone cancer.

  • Greate excuse for some defensible religion hate..... Almost therapeutic.
  • Next they will be against forms of birth control. Oh, wait...

  • by JSBiff (87824) on Monday February 13, 2012 @04:53PM (#39025157) Journal

    Honestly, I think it's time to re-evaluate the usefullness and legitimacy of the "Precautionary Principle". Over and over it's being invoke to deprive people of a known, verifiable *benefit*, in the name of unknown, unverified "dangers" - essentially "We know WiFi/whatever provides a benefit; but *someone* has made the unfounded, not supported by the evidence claim that there might be some risk of health problems, so let's deny people the known benefits in order to avoid unknown risks.

    As far as WiFi - it's not like it's brand new and untested. It's been around for over 10 years now. Wouldn't we have seen (or be starting to see) any problems by now?

  • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Monday February 13, 2012 @04:53PM (#39025159)
    This union should be ashamed of themselves. Don't they realize the threat of all these cords that they are proposing? People could trip over them, or get wrapped up and asphyxiated with them. Won't they think of the children? All it takes is one little accident, and a little kid won't be going home to their parents. Maybe it's just safer not to have any computers in the classroom at all.
  • Ontario? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Fujisawa Sensei (207127) on Monday February 13, 2012 @04:54PM (#39025183) Journal

    I would expect this from Alberta, but Ontario?

    • by compro01 (777531)

      Did you miss the last election's results? Ontario is only a couple shades lighter blue than Alberta. And the provincial liberals only formed the government by a pretty fine margin.

  • by Dr. Hellno (1159307) on Monday February 13, 2012 @04:58PM (#39025255)
    Maybe I'm being paranoid, but personally I'm much more concerned about the ubiquity of old lead pipes in the school buildings around here. Lead leaching into the water supply is a huge risk, especially for children, in whom it can cause learning disabilities. That's right, drinking the water in these schools is, statistically, causing learning disabilities in at least some of the students. But that would cost a whole lot to fix, and so instead we hear unsubstantiated hocus-pocus about wi-fi signals.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Teachers.

    I say we get them out of classrooms. I mean, they could be causing cancer in our children. I know this might seem like crazy talk, but I know three kids who developed cancer after going to school, and I don't know of any who developed cancer without attending school. And cancer rates have been on the increase ever since mandatory public education was introduced to society. No scientific study has proved that there is no link between teachers and cancer, despite the best efforts of the pharmaceutic

  • This is a Catholic school system in Ontario. Maybe they're terrified some pedophile priest will be recorded on video and streamed to the Internet. Ontario Catholic schools are home to the "largest case of non-residential school sex abuse by a Roman Catholic priest in North America". [wikipedia.org]

  • Everybody knows that running Cat5 is expensive and difficult in aging school buildings! Instead, have every student (and teacher) craft their very own Tinfoil Hat as an art project!

    It'll "protect" them from all these horrible microwatts of non-ionizing radiation and provide a life-enriching art project at the same time!

    Problem solved.

    The union should feel free to contact me so I can tell them where to send the check for my consulting fee.

  • This article embodies the general tone in schools and universities over here. Profs aren't allowed to think too hard, or else they will ruin the illusion of conformity the WASPs so desperately crave.

    Looking back at my education, I can think of maybe... 5 profs that actually knew their stuff. Okay, 5 and a half, because I forcefully enlightened one of them. The other hundred-ish ? Mindless imbeciles, going through the motions, reading from cue cards, collecting their extortionate paycheques. Like any or

    • by Dog-Cow (21281)

      I think it's hilarious that you refer to WASPs in an article about the Catholic school system. Talk about not thinking too hard!

  • by RichMan (8097) on Monday February 13, 2012 @05:12PM (#39025515)

    With the down pricing of tablets and the move to open text books. Class rooms will have cheap tablet based text books in less than 5 years. One tablet will cost less than 3 text books. The choice will be easy. Tablets will be wifi connected, not wired.

    This means any such wired policy and expense will have less than a 5 year life time. Lots of expense for little long term benefit. I doubt they can see the future.

  • as well as they the human body radiates [wikipedia.org] about 100Watts or 500 times more power than the maximum allowed power from a WiFi access point. Going out it sun is definitely out as at 1kW [wikipedia.org] per square meter of 5000 times strong than WiFi that definitely going to be fatal...

    What a load of Bollocks!

    D.

  • ...that just because you are a teacher doesn't mean you are intelligent. This is something I figured out fairly early on in high school, but believe kids should be told it up front so they don't treat everything the teacher says as absolute fact. Not that they should disregard everything a teacher says, but teachers are people and people can (and, in my opinion, usually are) stupid. So they can certainly be wrong, not that many teachers will own up that fact (the good ones will.)

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Monday February 13, 2012 @05:28PM (#39025783)

    We've researched it with short wave radio, FM, AM, CB, and even cell phones. We've even researched the health effects of 2.4 and 5.4ghz signals. Wifi falls within this research since it's using the same spectrum and is if anything lower power.

    So... not only is the complaint stupid.... it's also wrong.

    Are they actually upset about this for the stated reason or are they claiming a health reason to justify opposing it for some reason?

    I've dealt with too many of these political issues to take it at face value. There is often something else going on.

  • by rizole (666389) <rizole.gmail@com> on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:40PM (#39026641) Homepage
    ...Catholics are advocating pulling out?

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