Informed insight and open minds are key to education, but there are forces in modern society that seek to create narrow, one-dimensional mindsets and thinking. And this affects us all, including educators. For example, extremely well-funded PR machines are working behind the scenes with agritech/chemical companies and food manufacturers to develop effective techniques, educational material and TV advertising to get kids hooked on harmful food and to misrepresent certain issues.
Millennials are now the largest generation in the Canadian workforce, and within the next few years will begin to get real responsibility and influence in shaping our country's future. With the school year now behind us, it's a great time to think about what the future holds for education in Canada and how millennial attitudes will shape this future.
Have you noticed that when politicians in the U.S. and Canada talk about education reform, they say it's what "the economy" needs. They tell us the only way to do that is for schools to produce the kinds of workers that corporations want. Given the fact that there can be no economy without a healthy environment, isn't this focus on what the economy needs a bit short-sighted?
There is a great deal of debate about whether or not technology will revolutionize education. To me the debate itself points out a problem. With the number of free and low-cost educational resources that technology has made available it should have, at least to an extent. The fact that it hasn't points to a problem with the system overall. If we want to get the most out of our schools, the education system should be designed exclusively for children and for the world in which we currently live.
Understanding Ontario's financial woes is critical to understanding the need for real change. The province has been in deficit since 2008-09, accumulating more than $61 billion in debt. In 2013-14, the deficit was $11.3 billion. The province's debt now stands at almost $270 billion; it was just $130 billion at the start of the 2000s.
In Canada, organizations like the Society for Quality Education have been fighting for improvements. But Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia have resisted efforts by them and others to return to traditional methods of teaching mathematics despite the fact that Canadian students are falling behind, according to OECD global results in 65 nations.
Governor Bush was well aware that he was taking a big political risk in championing such big, bold changes, but he was willing to take this risk for the sake of the children. And, as it happened, Governor Bush's risk paid off handsomely -- both in terms of his own popularity at the polls and also in terms of student success.
Parents are really fed up. They are sick of paying for Kumon, sick of struggling with ridiculous homework assignments and nutty textbooks, and -- most of all -- tired of seeing doors slammed in their children's faces because they can't do math. In Ontario, an election is coming soon. It's time to make a change.
I like to call us resolutionaries. We are the people who have the best intentions and make great plans for the year to come. We will quit our bad habits and develop new and healthy ones. Today, we are sending our children back to school for the first week of 2014. Let's make a resolution to help them develop healthy habits -- and stick to those new habits.
Somewhere along the way, we've adopted some goofy misguided idea that children's psyches are inherently, staggeringly fragile, prone to devastating and irreversible damage from any number of relatively benign phenomena -- like honour rolls, sporting activities where only the winning team gets a trophy, or track and field days with actual competition (oh, the horror!).
Importantly, Canada and nations like America have entered a new phase in which promoting creativity and innovation represent the only option for boosting global competitiveness. Canada or any country desirous of succeeding in an interconnected world must aggressively adopt the idea that creativity is the single most important ingredient to reinventing itself.