From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor's rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own. Carl Schurz

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Prescripion For What Ails Our Education System

No matter where we fall on the political spectrum. I think we all agree that we are failing to adequately educate our children. While this is an issue that is important to me, it had slipped off my radar screen lately as I have been fixated on political and economic issues. However thanks to Kevin Falcon it is now back  in focus.

So here are some of my prescriptions for improving our education system

Level the playing field  We must start to devote more of our resources towards the schools and students that need them the most. Inequalities are rife in the system today, socioeconomics and large immigrant populations create greater difficulties for our teachers and require greater resources to achieve the same results as schools where these are less of a factor.

Bring back the arts  While the 3r's are important we have become much too focused on them, I think because they are easy to measure. The arts have suffered greatly over the last decade or so to our kids detriment, they not only contribute to creating well rounded citizens,  but engage our children in school life in a way the 3rs can never do. Reading, math and english can only benefit by the presence of engaged students.

Help our teachers to improve   Instead of punishing those who struggle by paying them less, how about assisting them in getting better at their craft. Mentor them by placing them under the guidance of our best and brightest teachers. We also need to identify their strengths and weaknesses, perhaps they are teaching the wrong subject. I have talked to teachers who have been assigned to subjects that they feel they are not adequately qualified for. Either train them properly or assign them appropriately.

Make school fun    The system has become way too focused on getting our kids to memorize the answers to the standardized tests favoured so much by the political class, that we are boring the crap out of them , turning them into nothing but standardized memory units and we are losing them as a result. Instead we should make learning fun, devise activities that while are enjoyable impart the knowledge that we desire them to have. Use collabrative learning,no more of this quietly sit at your desk and stare straight ahead nonsense, have our kids work together as a group to sovle problems and find the answers, this is how they will have to do it in the workplace and again will help keep them engaged.

Search out and use the best practices   Many jurisdictions are doing far better than we are when it comes to educating children. We need to not only research what they are doing but adopt and adapt the strategies that work best to our system.
A h/t to Beijing York for pointing me to a report on Finland's success in turning around their education system and is worth a read. This is but one example of how others are doing a better job than we are.

We can and must do a better job of educating our children if we are to prosper in the future not just economically but socially as well.

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