The students did their own research, they invited resource experts to give presentations and then a delegation of 10 students locked themselves in a room for a weekend with some graduate students from the University of Alberta to boil inputs from 3,000 students down into a sophisticated set of recommendations for change.
Whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not, the summer is coming to an end and young people everywhere are gearing up to go back to school. It can be an exciting time but also a stressful time, especially for those of you who are going into university/college or a new school for the first time.
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.
It is end-of-June: one would think summer and holidays would be on this teacher's mind. Instead, I have been reflecting and writing about my teaching practice, in anticipation for another school year this coming fall, mulling over my personal philosophy about care and how it underlies everything I do in the classroom.
Well, it looks like we are at that time of year again, the Parent/Teacher Interview where you see how your child did over the course of the semester and where they are going next year. For parents of children with special needs, this can be both an exciting and terrifying visit. You hope they have improved, and if not so much, did you maybe do something wrong, did your child, did the teacher not reach them?
This week, World Vision released a video showing what it might be like to have your classroom torn apart by war. In about two minutes, Life As a Classroom shows the destruction of once-friendly schoolroom over Syria's five-year conflict. As the video opens we see the teacher energetically teaching from the front. The walls are covered with colourful posters and a map of the world. All is peaceful. All is as it should be. Suddenly we hear the chanting of political protests in the street outside. Teacher and students move to the windows to look out. That's when things begin to change.
So what's a parent to do when they realize that their child, for whatever reason, is having difficulty making or maintaining friendships? No parent wants to feel that their child is missing out or... being shunned for one reason or another... Yet, this is the reality for too many children who face rejection on a daily basis.
I think competition is good for us, and is critical to helping us find performances that we didn't know we had. Sometimes I feel we have become so sensitive about not leaving anybody feeling left out that we have all but obliterated competition in our schools, and to a large degree in our workplaces. Nobody gets recognized, and actually nobody feels special.
Since teenage brains are literally neurobiologically different from adults, coupled with their fluctuating hormones, the way they process information also differs greatly from how we may process the very same things. This creates a situation where, when told not to wear something deemed inappropriate for that particular environment, while an adult may understand that it is simply a fashion issue within that specific circumstance, a teenager may perceive it on a chemical level as a personal threat to their entire identity and independence. As a result, they can become fiercely protective and hypersensitive to any potential threats made to their autonomy and are more likely to push the limits in response.
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.
I find it ironic that as we continue the battle against bullying in schools and amongst the A-list, it is in that very same cultural sphere that people use their cause as their weapon. Although I often disagree with comments made in the media, I more firmly believe that it isn't my place to call someone out for their opinion.
A few months ago, we released a study showing that for at least ten years Edmonton students have consistently and significantly outperformed Calgary students, and furthermore the gap gets larger the longer the students are in school. There is no reason why every city can't get the same great results as Edmonton.
It's true that most governments in developing countries provide education for children. And there's no doubt that millions of children overseas are intelligent, hard-working and yearning to succeed. But let's consider the many challenges which children in the world's poorest regions face when trying to attend school.
Last spring, I joined my daughter Journey's fifth grade class as a volunteer on her field trip. I had the pleasure of watching a classmate approach Journey who was taking photos of a museum exhibit. The classmate suggested she turn off the camera flash; he was concerned that it could trigger one of her seizures. I was overcome with pride and appreciation for the caring, supportive community we have created in partnership with the school administration.