It has been just over a year since I assumed the role of editor at Education Forum. Over the course of that year, I have spent a lot of time thinking about how the ideas for our features and articles come about, and what we can do to ensure that we are always exploring fresh topics that our readers will want to explore too.
About half of the articles we publish in Education Forum grow out of ideas generated by our editorial board or other members of the team at OSSTF/FEESO Provincial Office. Sometimes those articles are written by members of Provincial Office staff, and sometimes we approach an OSSTF/FEESO member who we think might be interested in writing about the topic we’d like to see covered.
Occasionally we engage a writer from outside of OSSTF/FEESO. Sometimes we turn to a seasoned freelancer who can approach a topic in a journalistic manner through research and interviews with key players and experts, and sometimes we approach academics or others with appropriate knowledge and expertise, who can write authoritatively about the topic we want to explore.
As for the rest of the stories that appear in the pages of Education Forum, almost all of them are proposed and written by individual OSSTF/FEESO members who approach us with ideas they feel would be of interest to our readership. Most of the time these articles are proposed by members with whom I or one of my colleagues at Provincial Office have at least occasional, if not regular, interaction. Typically, these members are local leaders and/or members of provincial committees. In other words, members who are actively engaged and well-versed in various education or labour issues from a Federation point of view. They have the experience and the desire to examine those issues thoughtfully and critically, and they almost invariably deliver engaging articles that provide keen insights valuable to all OSSTF/FEESO members, as well as other readers of Education Forum.
One thing I have come to realize over this past year, however, is that some of the most compelling member-authored articles in Education Forum have been those with a more personal flavour. I’m thinking of stories that are in some way informed by the author’s own distinctive experience—perhaps an experience with a particular issue or challenge they’ve confronted in the classroom, a community initiative that they or their colleagues have undertaken, or a unique project that they’ve been involved with. A number of relatively recent articles come to mind. Kristine Klassen’s (District 25, Ottawa-Carleton) “Talking with Teens about Hate,” in the Spring 2017 issue, explores the author’s discussions with her students following the Quebec City mosque shooting. In the same issue, Krista McCracken (District 35, Universities) gives us “Sharing, Healing and Learning,” about the unique work of the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre at Algoma University, where Krista is the Centre’s researcher/curator. “Water Warriors,” by Diane Ballantyne (District 18, Upper Grand), in the Fall 2017 issue, tells us about OSSTF/FEESO members and others involved in the struggle to save groundwater in Wellington county from private corporate interests. And in the current issue, Sue Melville (District 3, Rainbow) tells us about the extraordinary journey of a former student who is now a powerful advocate for the transgender community in his region.
These are just a few recent examples of engaging articles written from the personal perspectives of individual OSSTF/FEESO members. In a federation comprised of 60,000 members, there must be hundreds of equally compelling stories, and we’d love to publish more of them. But the first step is to find out where those stories are hiding. If you think you have a unique story that would be of interest to Education Forum’s readership, or even if you’d like to try your hand at exploring a broader education-related issue from a less personal perspective, we’re always interested in adding new and distinct voices to the magazine. Please consider getting in touch to talk about your ideas (firstname.lastname@example.org).