The media, online and off, has been buzzing about various education announcements coming from B.C. Premier Christy Clark's office. The last one about a proposed 10-year contract between the Government of B.C. and the B.C. Teachers' Federation (BCTF) sparked a lot of debate, none of it terribly positive for either side of the table.
For parents and students (the ones with an actual stake in the plan), there isn't much to be done about it except wait and see. Parents of school-age children don't actually have much of a say when it comes to who and how our children are being taught. We can show our opinions by our vote or we can move our children to private or home-schooling, if we are so lucky.
Something does have to change with the way our kids are being taught though. Every school year, the teachers bring out the same decorations for each season and theme. Nothing seems to change. I like most of the teachers at the school, I think it is a pretty good place and my children seem to be (after a few bumps along the way) be doing OK. Just OK, not exceeding, not failing, but going along in the middle, like a school wants their students to be.
But when I see the same old, same old, I really start to question the value of the curriculum in our ever quickly changing society.
Are our schools keeping up with what is truly relevant in our world? Our school has a large computer centre with its own teacher. I have NO clue what is taught there. The kids bring home printouts about "online safety," but I don't think these courses actually mention things like Facebook or Twitter.
My son came home from some sort of presentation on the topic and the only thing that stuck with him was a story about people spying on you through your webcams. None of what was told actually resonated with is already existing online life.
Wouldn't it be good if they taught kids how to research online? How to source information and not violate copyright? I don't think elementary school is too young to learn this, not if the kids are already developing Internet lifestyles at home. The kids are merrily cutting and pasting images with no lessons about the legality of this.
Could they not perhaps start to cover basic keyboarding skills too? I suppose I will have to request a special meeting with this computer person when the next parent-teacher conference rolls along.
I think the biggest thing we have to realize when the talking heads are discussing our children's future that it is up to us on the ground to make sure our kids are learning what we want them to learn.
A Twitter discussion set me off again when parents and teachers were discussing what to buy or make for their kids class Valentine's. My question is, WHY? Why are we teaching Valentine's at all in classes? And not the actual origin of the day but instead what the card, flower and chocolate makers want our kids to know: how to be good little consumers.
Why not just make cards for parents or sick kids or something. Why make a fuss of the day at all? I was told that parents would be upset if we didn't do it. Why? Is it really relevant to the world we live in today? We want to teach our children to be the next heroes and givers, but instead we mark a day by rushing out to the dollar store and writing 25 cards that end up in the garbage as soon as they are home.
If this attitude is just me, then I apologize for wasting all your time, but I just thought we wanted the future generations to be more enlightened than what we seem to be right now.
There is absolutely no point in agreeing or disagreeing with the premier or the BCTF if we the parents don't speak up and have a voice in how our children are being taught in the 21st century.
I will step off my soapbox now.