October 24, 2016

Suspended Canadian Teacher Lynden Dorval On His Suspension & What’s Next (Part #2)

Lynden Dorval

Lynden Dorval

On Monday, we shared with you Part #1 of our interview with Lynden Dorval, the teacher suspended for giving students grades of “zero.” If you didn’t get the chance to see Part #1, check it out here.

Here is Part #2, where Lynden explains why he didn’t appeal the suspension, the tendency to think that failure is damaging, and what’s next for him —

Financial Bin: Why did you decide not to appeal the suspension? 

Lynden Dorval: After consulting with a private lawyer who gave me his opinion that an appeal would likely fail and after learning (from the “School Act” the costs of a hearing (although not likely) could be assigned fully to any party (possibly me), I decided to let the 21 day time-limit for appeal to expire. I still have recourse to an appeal if the Board moves to “termination” of my contract (cannot happen legally until September). I am told I have a good case for “civil legal action” because of the harassing and bullying nature of the reprimand and suspension letters.

FB: Did you have any contact with the students you gave the “0” grades to? Did they try to contact you? 

LD: A lot actually. I have had e-mails, thank-you cards and letters (and indirect contact through parents and colleagues and former colleagues) from current and former students approving my approach and giving evidence that zeros do have the result I intended (students are motivated to do the work).

FB: It seems that this type of thing continues to happen more and more. We don’t allow people to fail. Whether it’s grades for a test or banks that were mismanaged — we feel the need to shield people from failure. But, isn’t failure just part of life? If we don’t allow people to fail, how will they ever truly succeed? What’s your take, Lynden?

LD: This is a much bigger issue that my case. I was just reacting to a “directive” from my principal, which I felt denied my professional duty and responsibility to decide the best way to evaluate my students.

To comment on your point, I do agree that we seemed to have moved to a philosophy that failure “damages” young people rather than being “a life lesson”.

FB: What has been the reaction from others, particularly from the media and those who know you?

LD: Huge!

In the last few weeks I have been on over a dozen radio talk/phone-in shows from Halifax to Vancouver (also San Francisco) and (I just counted) nine appearances on various television news programs (local, provincial and national).

I have had e-mails, letters, cards and phone calls from former administrators, colleagues, students and people (both citizens and teachers) from all across Canada (and a Microsoft engineer from California) who don’t know me but wanted to give their support. A bit surprising that I have yet to receive even a single negative response.

FB: What’s next for you, Lynden? Will you stay retired, write a book, blog about your experiences, or do speeches?

LD: Again, suspension is with pay and I assumed that I would be terminated in September and apply for my pension, hopefully teaching part-time to supplement my pension. Now my future is more uncertain, because the superintendent may feel that the issue will blow up again if they terminate me so they may leave me suspended until I retire on my own.

There is the possibility of a settlement for damages which would hasten my retirement.

I haven’t enjoyed the media attention (I only did all of the appearances because I have apparently become an unintended spokesperson for a lot of teachers, parents and citizens frustrated at a philosophy- I believe created because of the emphasis all across North America placed on completion in order to receive funding- where the “optics” of student success is more important that whether students are actually learning or not) so I don’t see myself doing any future work in any form of “media.”

Don’t miss Part #1 of Financial Bin’s interview with Suspended Canadian Teacher Lynden Dorval!

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