On Saturday, I had read and shared this article
It was an uncomfortable read and I tucked it away for future reading and understanding. It didn’t go unnoticed by Hazel Mason either.
Wow, I am a bit speechless.
— Hazel Mason (@Hmason36) September 8, 2018
I certainly spent some time re-reading and re-thinking about the seven points. What better way to do so than to also blog about them. Much of the rationale in the original article includes a financial statement. Without facts and references, that’s difficult to agree or disagree with. I’ve always agreed with
“If You Think Education Is Expensive, Try Ignorance”
So, an argument that supports the best in education trumps a claim of saving money just for the sake of saving money in my mind.
NON-GOVERNMENT TUITION SUBSIDIES
- I completely agree with the current situation of not subsidizing independent/private schools. Every child in the province deserves access to a consistent, quality education. They can do that right now. If there are parents that want to purchase something else, then that decision should be up to them and not assisted by the taxpayer.
- I’ve long been a hater of the word “training” when applied to teachers when it really should be professional learning. You train dogs. The rationale here is that the program of Teacher preparation doesn’t prepare teachers for the “real world”. I’d be at a loss to describe a program of learning that actually would. Certainly the world and students changes over time. That reinforces the notion of continuous professional learning. If I had to make a suggestion to the current situation, it would be for Faculties of Education to second practising teachers to help deliver the program in addition to current faculty. The move to a two year, more applied hands-on learning program has been a good move, when implemented properly. But nothing will prepare anyone for the realities of your own classroom with real issues, real children.
- The author talks about witnessing the “dumbing down” of the curriculum. In my career, I’ve seen a number of revisions to the provincial curriculum. I’ve been so impressed with its evolution. It’s become far more flexible and honouring of teacher professional judgement in terms of what is actually delivered in the classroom. The curriculum document that I’m most familiar with is “Computer Studies” and it was designed to be future proof and allows for changes in technology to be embraced without a revision of the document. The front pages of any of Ontario’s curriculum documents is exemplary.
- At the present time, as the author notes, there is a document that prescribes that textbooks can be used in classrooms. It is indeed prescriptive but it ensures that the curriculum can’t be hijacked by choosing inappropriate materials or to head off in a different direction than what the curriculum prescribes. It’s also a step to ensure that the same quality of education is delivered throughout the province. Textbook selection should be a well defined process, ensuring that whatever is chosen, addresses the current curriculum expectations.
- This has long been a controversial issue but the fact that school districts exist ensure that local priorities can be addressed. The notion of a High School Major is a perfect example. The careful design plays to the importance of certain fields to the local community. What works in a downtown community may not be appropriate to a rural location. Having said that, within a community, there can be so much duplication of services with four school districts in operation. Since they all teach in Ontario, there may well be significant savings by rethinking this way of organization and addressing the duplication of efforts.
ONTARIO COLLEGE OF TEACHERS
- I think I was one of the few that thought that the College of Teachers was a good thing when originally proposed. Not because of the Blue Pages which, as we know, is the most read resource, but because it came at a time when it recognized teaching as a true profession. It placed teachers in the same category of doctors, nurses, and any profession that governs itself and sets standards. These realities can only be achieved when you have teachers on the College making informed decisions. Having said all this, I do think that the responsibility for discipline of educators should remain with the employer.
- Provincial testing was implemented with good intentions. It was to be a snapshot in time to let educators and the system know how well it was addressing the curriculum. We’ve all seen the monster that it has created for teachers. Just stay tuned to social media around testing time to see how far removed the testing process is from classroom instruction. In my opinion, the worst was how realtors hijack the published results to help them sell houses based upon the school that might be in the neighbourhood. I can’t believe that that was ever part of the original mandate.
What are your thoughts?