This week a new school year begins for Canadian students and teachers in those schools scheduled on a ‘traditional’ school year, although there are some ‘year-round’ schools and some schools on what are known as ‘modified calendars’ already underway. Now teachers in all these schools can be proud. The very good news is that Canada is now recognized as one of the education superpowers. Unfortunately, it took the British press and American education gurus to recognize it. Why isn’t our Canadian media overjoyed with this? Why are we not celebrating this achievement? Instead, when I read the newspaper editorials or look at letters to the editor, I get the impression that our education system is so poor that our children don’t even learn to read, write or do arithmetic anymore. I’ve previously written of my support for learning environments using 21st century techniques yet I continually see objections and a desire by some to return to the 19th century ‘stand and deliver’ techniques followed by rote memorization. "Just the facts, ma'am" as Joe Friday’s catchphrase said. But even that is a wrongly attributed quote coming from a parody of the show Dragnet. It is more important that we educate students to be fact checkers, not just fact memorizers.
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a worldwide study set up by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). According to the BBC, the PISA tests “are a major study of educational performance and show Canada's teenagers as among the best educated in the world.” The BBC also notes that “(Canadian students) are far ahead of geographical neighbours such as the US and European countries with strong cultural ties like the UK and France.” BBC also tells us that, unlike the single city state of Singapore, “Canada does not even really have a national education system, it is based on autonomous provinces”.
As this new school year begins, I invite all Canadians to celebrate and proclaim our success in education. As the BBC says: “As Canada marks its 150th anniversary, it can claim the status of an education superpower.”
Link: BBC article
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