Thank you for the gracious pat on the back, BBC, but let's look at more data before policy makers and universities believe their "achievements."
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A high-quality education's effectiveness is determined by the quality of its teachers - teacher education, skills and training.
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For numbers of year now, there has been a movement that seeks to "indigenize" education in Canada. This means that our institutions will have to create an appropriate curriculum for non-indigenous and indigenous educators alike to deliver to a very diverse student body. Can this be done? If so, who will get to say what is appropriate and what is appropriation?
When corruption and callous disregard for the marginalized can be so richly rewarded, what incentive do my students have for being good? When cheating does not preclude you from occupying the highest office in the province, why should they listen to my warnings about plagiarism?
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Eighty years ago, the Spanish Civil War resulted in a vast displacement and large number of unaccompanied child refugees. It was from the ashes of that crisis that Plan International was created. I am sure John Langdon-Davies, the founder of Plan International, would be heartbroken to know how urgently, in so many parts of the world, our work is still needed.
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Later on this week or month, you will perhaps receive and then open an envelope containing your child's tri-annual report card, an account informing you of their academic progress in school so far this year. But you might find that not everything your child has learned will be part of that running commentary.
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Recently, with rising Islamophobia, a Muslim child was threatened on school grounds by someone wearing a mask. Though schools may see themselves as "neutral," the sense of safety and well-being of many children continues to be hijacked with the ongoing rhetoric of political leaders and increasing hate incidents and crimes.
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In teachers' college, I had an excellent professor who talked about removing oneself from a situation before it became critically difficult to deal with. I'll call it the 60 per cent rule, although he may have given a different number. Don't wait until you are at 99 per cent of what you can handle, when you are dealing with other people.
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Currently, the public education system in Ontario seems more focused on looking good to the public than actually being the best it can be for the children. Ontario should look to Finland. They are now doing something right, but they weren't always #1 in education. In the 1970s they made a conscious systemic decision to focus on learning rather than performance.
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I know from my years spent in public school classrooms and the schoolyard...that tough love can be done in kindness. I learned that consequences can be carried out with kindness. Gentle critique can be conducted with a cushion of kindness. All of this and more. All can be cradled in kindness and compassion and gentleness and love.
GMOs have the potential to irreversibly alter the genetic core of the food supply. It is very worrying that Health Canada seems more concerned about jumping on the industry bandwagon by trying to convince the unwilling public about the perceived benefits of GMOs than actually carrying out its own safety studies.
Among the groups that I saw at the Toronto march was a contingent of elementary school teachers. As most people know, the great majority of elementary school teachers everywhere are women. As women, they have experienced more than their fair share of discrimination, pay inequity, and even violence in the workplace. But should teachers have the right to protest and then to bring their views and opinions into their classrooms? It might depend on the views and how they are expressed.
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As a Canadian, it's hard to believe it's possible for teachers to successfully educate 104 children of different grades in a single classroom. Where children sit on a dirt floor, have an empty stomach, don't have sufficient school supplies for their needs. Children excited to be in school, no matter how far they had to walk under a blazing sun.
Having a positive classroom environment and solid relationships with both students and parents can make any teaching professional's life so much easier. But a happy classroom, comfortable students, and supportive parents don't simply happen by themselves. Instead, they're the result of hard work and preparation.