Sometimes as teachers I feel we forget that we have priorities. There are some things more important than others. Curriculum is necessary, but if the house is on fire, that document is not coming with me. Outcomes are necessary but if the room is under threat, I will not give them a moment's notice. Lesson plans are useful, but if a child's life is at risk, that carefully laid-out plan for my day would be the last thing on my mind.
We teachers have nothing to be sorry about. Despite what the government and school boards say, it's not our fault. It's not our doing. And it's certainly not our choice. Please don't tell me it's because we're asking for more money. Because we're not. Or that we're asking for better benefits. Because we're not. Or even that we're asking for more sick days. Because we're not. The only things we're asking is for is the freedom to use our knowledge as professionals to give your child the best education possible.
While I have some reservations about the fairness and wisdom of ramming the new sex education curriculum down the throats of unwilling parents, I am still scratching my head over the strength of this parental protest. Why are parents more upset about the somewhat-flawed new sex education curriculum than the known-to-be-very-flawed math and language arts curriculum already in place? Nor do the problems with the Ontario curriculum end with math and language arts. What about its music curriculum that doesn't teach kids how to sight read or sing in tune? Why aren't students taught cursive writing?
The misinformation about the new curriculum rivals the inaccuracies kids get about sex from their friends and our culture. Some parents are convinced that their kids will be asked to touch themselves at school. The actual curriculum stresses respecting yourself and respecting others. If you oppose it, fine. At least know what you are opposing. Parents are entitled to pass on their religious or moral beliefs to their kids, but they are not entitled to pass on their religious or moral beliefs to my child. By trying to force the Ontario government to yank the evidence-based, updated portions of the health curriculum for all Ontario kids, they are trying to prevent the majority who support this initiative from benefiting from it. And that's wrong.
The provincial government announced it's introducing its proposed sex education changes. As expected opponents pounced, including Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Monte McNaughton. He gave Wynne the moment she needed to not only change the channel on her Sudbury scandal, but also to get the upper hand on the curriculum changes. There just aren't enough Ontarians looking to fight over sex education or who want to stand with folks who are actually homophobic or genuinely believe evolution should not be taught if people don't want it taught. They need to clear those last two issues up, very quickly and clearly.
As a teacher, this time of the year is one where my mind drifts to 'what ifs' and 'how abouts'. Summer is the time of year when teachers are finally afforded the time in which to breathe, take stock and think about what is yet to come. So while I am not ready to cash in on summer yet, here are five wishes I have for the upcoming school year, set to start in a few short weeks.
The answer seems to be found in that old abysmal gap between policy-makers and practitioners. Why is anyone without educational expertise drafting educational policy? The actual question of who decides upon curriculum is nothing new: even the role and qualifications of teachers in this process is a contested matter.
I was introduced to Minecraft by my son, who was nine at the time. I would ask him to stop watching Minecraft videos, which he seemed addicted to. When he started playing, I asked him to get off the computer and get outside. All parents do this, but few of us take the time to truly understand what it is our kids are really doing on that computer. Well my son, now 10, has taught me a huge lesson.