Thursday, September 23, 2010

Higher Education

I'll be very interested to see this movie:
"The Lottery is a 2010 documentary film about the controversy surrounding public and charter schools in the United States, directed by Madeleine Sackler. The film was produced by Blake Ashman-Kipervaser, James Lawler, and Madeleine Sackler. The cinematographer was Wolfgang Held (BrĂ¼no, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, Children Underground)." Wikipedia

If you look at the PISA scores, Canada is usually in the top five, definitely in the top ten. Yet, we constantly devalue our teachers and our education system by paying huge sums of money to import speakers, books,and techniques from the United States. Their scores are below the top ten, sometimes in the twenties.

The last time I attended a speech by an American education guru, hundreds of teachers were in attendance. The speaker talked about how we need to avoid cut and paste and paper and pencil activities with children as though they were the backbone of our teaching styles. I was offended and disappointed. Perhaps twenty or thirty years ago his speech would have been relevant for the majority of Canadian teachers.

Canadians need to get over this inferiority complex. Why we assume the United States are the leaders in education and feel driven to follow them down whatever path they choose, whether it has turned out well for them or not, is a mystery to me.

I truly hope we are doing much better for our poor students than offering them a chance for higher education through a lottery. I know students here get horrendously in debt in university and, with the job market as it is, may face difficulties paying it off. I wish we had free secondary education for everyone with the ability to succeed.

Unfortunately, we are still having difficulty getting some students to finish high school although the dropout rates have decreased steadily from 1990. Oddly, looking at statistics on the net, the Americans are quite similar, around 85 percent completing highschool, yet they are calling it a crises and we aren't.

All I know is, many, many teachers are working beyond their capactity to fill unreasonable demands, an overburdened curriculum, tremendously increased paperwork, and downloaded workload. I have always believed that class size and teacher support make the biggest difference in grade school and everything else is built on that.

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