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Click for a list of videos documenting Rancourt's activism

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Rancourt interviewed on TVO

Watch the interview with Steven Paikin, 10 April 2009

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31 March: Rancourt dismissed - Read Statement

University of Ottawa dismisses Professor Denis Rancourt over grading dispute

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Watch PHY 4385

Documentary film in production; see the physics class at the center of why the University of Ottawa dismissed Dr Rancourt.

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With grades students learn to guess the professor's mind and to obey. It is a very sophisticated machinery, whereby the natural desire to learn, the intrinsic motivation to want to learn something because you are interested in the thing itself, is destroyed. Grades are the carrot and stick that shape obedient employees and that prepare students for the higher level indoctrinations of graduate and professional schools. The only way to develop independent thinking in the classroom is to give freedom, to break the power relationship by removing the instrument of power. 

Paolo Freire is the first major influence that has helped me understand what my pedagogy needs to be about. The book that he is most known for, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, is an incredible masterpiece. It's academic, it's intellectual, but it's deep and based in experience. You can read it over and over again and get more out of it each time. Jeff Schmidt wrote a very important book that is not well known called Disciplined Minds, which talks about how professional employees are formed. Lastly, as an anarchist, I have found a great deal of inspiration for my education from Mikhail Bakunin.
-- DGR

On 10 December 2008, Denis Rancourt, a tenured physics professor with 22 years experience, was provided with two letters by University of Ottawa administration officials. The first letter explained hat he was being placed under administrative suspension and banned from campus, while the second explained that the Dean of the Faculty of Science had recommended to the Board of Governors that Rancourt be fired.
The stated reason for the University of Ottawa's actions is Rancourt's assigning of A+ grades to all students in a fourth-year physics course (PHY 4385 - cross-listed with PHY 5100) in the Winter 2008 term. Rancourt gave out the grades, which were officially approved by the university, because he believes that rank-ordering students is at odds with effective pedagogy. Thus, to achieve a similar effect as the pass/fail system, which is not approved at U of O, Rancourt handed students the highest possible grade so that they could not try to do any "better" and thus, in his view, focus their attention on learning. Rancourt has asserted that: "Socrates did not give grades...[m]y job is to educate. Over the years, I've come to the conclusion that what we've been doing with the grading system doesn't work. We are creating obedient employees, but not people who think."
At a 31 March 2009 Executive of the Board of Governors meeting, the University of Ottawa dismissed Professor Rancourt.
  • In July 2008, an arbitration decision declared that Rancourt's approach to grading was protected under the purview of academic freedom.



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Signer la petition
To the University of Ottawa: Please reinstate Denis Rancourt
Mr Paul McKenzie
Robert Kirkconnell Kirkconnell
Madam healy micheline
Mr Bluteau, BSc. Gabriel
Ranilce Guimaraes-Iosif
Zainab Habib
Mr Reinaldo Valverde
Arthur Borges
George Lincoln Rockwell
Mr albert rosenblatt
Mr Edward Gein
Mr Corey Larracey
Waters Lon
Mr Thomas Tauts
Miss Bao Yang
Joanne Wiedman
Mr Emad Aboulouz
Mr Wachob William
Miss Velvet LeCLair
Mr M.S. khan
Mr Haidar Al-Aubiydy
Mr Duquette Philippe
Mr Graeme Feltham
Mr Abdulkarim Hani
Mr Keshav Mukunda
Vera Szoke
Ken Ranney
Madam Karin Brothers
Mr William Forrest
Miss Jennifer Motha
Mr Sobota Tom
Mr Qais Ghanem
Lee Treilhard Treilhard
Parviz Mirbaghi (Mirabdolbaghi)
Miss 'stine Church
Miss moayedi yasbanoo
Nadine Cheney