doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

Learning about technology

When I entered secondary school, there were basically three choices for optional courses if I recall correctly.

  • Arts and Science
  • Business and Commerce
  • Science, Technology, and Trades

Only the first option would lead you to university – the other two lead to college or the world of work.

As a Grade 8 student, I was overwhelmed with the choices. My parents were supportive but we know that parents only get part of the big picture in education. Of course, we all had to take Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, etc. We had two choices then – 5-year courses and 4-year courses. I opted for the 5-year course route. It was a bit of a mixed bag with my options. Of course, we know that these changed to Advanced and General level descriptors later on. And the changes still happen.

I did really well with my optional courses choice. My Dad was an accountant so I took Business and Commerce. In Grades 9 and 10, that involved learning how to type – mechancial typewriters in Grade 9 and then electric in Grade 10. Of all the things that I ever did for myself, this has to rank near the top. I can hammer out a blog post in minutes!

Business courses involved accounting, of course, and then in Grade 11 an experimental course in programming. I took it on a whim and that changed my direction for the rest of my life. I count myself fortunate; as a Grade 8 student looking at a course selection sheet for Grade 9, that path didn’t exist at the time.

Going into Grade 9 is still a crapshoot for parents and children. The normal route is to leave your comfortable elementary school and mix with kids from other schools into this big amalgam of students. I’m told that it’s a bit better if you went to a 7-12 school but there is still that whole educational culture change.

In time for the March Break and the OSSTF Annual General Meeting, the Minister dropped a bomb.

Ontario students will have to take a new course to graduate. Here’s what you need to know

My first reaction was “what now”?

Students will be able to choose between a number of classes approved through the “technological education” curriculum in order to get their Ontario Secondary School Diploma. The curriculum includes a broad range of topics such as construction, transportation, manufacturing, computer technology, hospitality, and communications.

Thanks, CP24

Into the middle of this, we had to have a repair done on my wife’s Jeep and the labour cost was $214.95 an hour. Of course, the mechanic doing the repair wouldn’t get it all but it’s a chance to look at the reality. We hear it over and over again; there are good-paying jobs that we’re not producing students to take.

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

Now, normally, I’m one to take a swing at Ministry announcements but I’m holding back at this point. As noted in the news article, there will be more information to come.

I do wonder…

  • will every school be required to offer every option? Presently, there are schools that can’t offer certain programs because of a lack of numbers
  • do we have the capacity to teach all of these courses with current staff?
  • if we don’t, does this open the door to contracting those jobs out to others?
  • is the technology that currently is in place in schools appropriate for educating everyone in a current and meaningful reality?
  • what other changes will be made to accommodate this additional course> – it seems to me that something has to go to make room for this new course – will Arts courses be a casualty?
  • technology courses typically have a smaller class size than other courses – will we need more teachers?
  • will the curriculum be flexible enough to change with technological changes? – remember, computer programming wasn’t even on the radar when I was in Grade 8
  • will it be more successfully implemented than “coding” has where every classroom has their own take on what it means?

I find it interesting that we have these ideas floated without details.

This could be a biggy.


4 responses to “Learning about technology”

  1. I wonder how many years until this actually happens? I think it’s great – I learned to cook and sew and do minor home repairs during home ec and shop classes in school. But I have a lot questions about this is going to be implemented. They seem to be adding a lot to the list for schools to do, but at some point, there simply isn’t time. Like you, I wonder what goes to make room for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alfred Thompson Avatar
    Alfred Thompson

    I went to an engineering magnet high school. Our lowest level of courses was called “college preparatory” which in the US means university. I didn’t actually know that not going to university was an option until just before graduation one of my classmates told me he wasn’t going to university. I was in shock.

    Today I know better of course. And learning a trade is a great way to prepare for a good living. I am grateful that my HS required courses including wood shop and machine shop. Those lessons served me well. The foundry course not as much though it did give me good insights into how things are made which was its intention.

    Enough about me. I wonder how the plan in Ontario will work out. It is probably good to offer options. I took my first programming course because it looked more interesting than the other courses from a group of courses as a graduation requirement. It changed my life. I suspect that this plan in Ontario may change the direction of more than a few students. That is probably a good thing.

    Liked by 1 person

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