French immersion is a real elephant in the educational room.
Throughout Canada, there’s a huge increase in the number of families wishing to have their child taught in such a program. There are all kinds of reasons:
- since Canada is bilingual, it only makes sense
- there’s an element of prestige attending these programs
- there’s a thought that the students in such a program are somehow “better”
- students will get better teachers
Well, maybe that last point isn’t quite right, if you believe this story from the Globe and Mail.
I’ll admit that articles like this always get my dander up.
What gives someone outside of education the authority to be able to make judgement on teacher, school, or classroom quality?
The article is in response to a problem with staffing in British Columbia. The author does do her research digging into the Ontario and Quebec situations. It’s an interesting read from that perspective.
It’s the quality thing that gets me. In particular, reference is made to new teachers. I don’t think that there’s anyone in the profession who was at their best in their first few years of teaching. Sure, we went to a Faculty of Education and had our practice teaching stints but none of that prepares you for the realities of your own classroom and all that entails.
This is a problem that is of its own making. In the desire to fill empty classrooms, programs like this are offered to the community and then, based upon demand, assigning teachers is done. When demand exceeds supply, lottery systems or first come-first served solutions with waiting lists are used. One has to wonder if the other programs receive as much attention and resources.
As always, reading the comments to a story like this gives you a sense of the connected community who are inclined to take the time to comment. Based on this, we certainly haven’t got our game together.
The pawns in all this are the students. Without an immediate solution, it could be a whole year until they get into the program.
So what’s the solution?
According to the article, our Minister of Education is working on a solution. How quickly will this happen to rescue the situation?
Here’s a few solutions that come to mind …
- address the perception that there are multiple levels of quality in education
- start recruiting potential students actively in university and perhaps even secondary school
- encourage local school districts to share students and empty seats to meet demands
- have school districts offer their own additional qualification courses rather than wait until a Faculty of Education offers one
- encourage all Faculties of Education to offer additional qualifications courses to address the needs
- offer additional qualification courses online to make it accessible to those who have other responsibilities that make university commitments impossible
- is it time for education to become a federal responsibility so that teachers can easily move between provinces for positions?
- at the very least, recognizing qualifications from other provinces would at least help with teacher relocation
Your thoughts? How could this demand be addressed?
It is a problem and, as long as school districts can’t meet the demand, needs a permanent solution.