Memorizing facts still has an important place in schools

Students learn best when immersed in a content-rich learning environment that builds up their background knowledge

Memorizing facts still has an important place in schoolsInstead of making students memorize a bunch of useless facts, we need to help them think like scientists and historians. Does this make sense to you? It probably does if you’re a curriculum consultant or an education professor. After all, that’s what’s being pushed in faculties of education. The problem is that this approach is…

Four critical things to know about critical race theory

Why an academic theory that dates back to the 1970s has become a political lightning rod today

Four critical things to know about critical race theoryIn April of this year, Georgia became the latest of 15 American states to ban the teaching of critical race theory in schools. In celebrating a similar ban in Mississippi, Republican Gov. Tate Reeves recorded a video in which he claimed, without evidence, that school children had been “dragged to the front of the classroom and coerced…

Violence should never be normalized in school

Schools must avoid the equally misguided extremes of zero-tolerance policies and permissive idealism

Violence should never be normalized in schoolSaunders Secondary School in London, Ont., is home to approximately 2,000 students. It’s been in the news a lot lately, but not in a good way. A recent CBC story quoted an anonymous teacher who described Saunders as a “tinderbox of violence” where students regularly challenge teachers to fist fights after school. Over the last six…

Indigenous knowledge sorely lacking in Canadian education system

Age of Enlightenment partly responsible for the destructive colonial logic that has wreaked so much havoc among Indigenous peoples

Indigenous knowledge sorely lacking in Canadian education systemThere is a wisdom principle known as wâhkôhtowin underpinning how Cree peoples fundamentally see the world. Literally, it means kinship but refers more widely to the interconnectedness of human beings with each other and with all other forms of life. According to Dwayne Donald – freshly appointed Canada Research Chair in reimagining teacher education with…

Group gives black students a voice and a welcoming space

The Black Graduate Students’ Association helps build a more inclusive university for all students

Group gives black students a voice and a welcoming spaceHeather Gray Lamm’s introduction to the Black Graduate Students’ Association came while she was sitting on the floor of the Butterdome at the University of Alberta. Lamm, a new graduate student, was taking a moment amidst the chaos and crowd of orientation to figure out where she was supposed to be. “You’re easily invisible in such…

Teachers must stop undermining parental values

Teachers are hired to educate students, not to indoctrinate them

Teachers must stop undermining parental valuesWhen parents send their children to school, they place a lot of trust in teachers. It’s important that teachers not undermine that trust. Unfortunately, some teachers haven’t learned this lesson. For example, last year a school posted a message on its outdoor sign stating that farming affects oceans and that the chemicals used in farming…

Joanne Weber named first-ever research chair in deaf education

The only professor in academia working on deaf education

Joanne Weber named first-ever research chair in deaf educationThere is a fierce debate raging in the deaf community. Many audiologists believe sign language is obsolete, recommending instead that deaf children rely exclusively on technology such as cochlear implants and hearing aids. Sign language, they contend, interferes with learning to speak. Joanne Weber argues the whole dispute is absurd and unnecessary. The first Canada Research Chair in…

Technology should never be the driving force behind education reform

Students need more time reading books and less time reading screens. Good teaching, not more technology, is key

Technology should never be the driving force behind education reformTechnology has had a huge impact on public education. Classrooms of today look quite different from those of a generation ago. It shows just how quickly technology changes and the extent to which it dominates our children’s lives. However, while it makes sense to ensure that students and teachers have reasonable access to computers, technology…

Time to let principals run our public schools

The primary job of the principal is to improve the results of a single school, not a district

Time to let principals run our public schoolsNearly two years ago, Quebec’s ministry of education reorganized the management of the province’s elementary and secondary schools to enable each school’s principal, staff, and parents to take over the operation of the school. The external political school board no longer exists. In a sense, the Quebec system now looks very much like the management…

Teachers must retake charge of their classrooms

It is the only way to ensure quality education

Teachers must retake charge of their classroomsProspective teachers learn a lot about individualized instruction in faculties of education. That’s because teachers are encouraged to personalize learning for each student as much as possible. To a certain degree, this makes good sense. An inflexible, cookie-cutter approach to education serves no one well. At the same time, the pendulum has swung so far…

Let’s be sure to teach our children critical thinking skills

They’ll need them

Let’s be sure to teach our children critical thinking skillsApparently, both the British Columbia ministry of education and the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation would rather not encourage the province’s students to develop and utilize their critical thinking skills. Better to just take the teachers’ truth in the classroom rather than discovering and understanding both sides (or all sides) of a contentious subject. Shame on…

We can’t hide our heads in the sand over racism

Ignore mistakes of the past or allow racist policies in the present and we embrace our own demise

We can’t hide our heads in the sand over racismThere has been a great deal of discussion in the American media about the teaching of critical race theory. Some states have passed legislation to prevent the discussion of this topic in schools, and others have similar bills before their elected assemblies. Michigan is one of these states, and I recently came across a document…

Handwriting remains a useful skill

We are more likely to remember words we write than words we type

Handwriting remains a useful skill“Sign here please.” Anyone who has ever accepted a UPS delivery, signed a permission slip for a school field trip, or filled out a legal document has likely seen this phrase. Although it takes only a few seconds to sign a document, our handwritten signature means we have read the document and accepted its terms.…

Teachers should keep using textbooks

Telling students to create their own knowledge by finding sources on the internet is just plain wrong

Teachers should keep using textbooksI learned a lot about Canadian history when I was an elementary school student. However, it had little to do with what happened during class. Rather, I came across an old Canadian history textbook in our school library and started reading it on my own time. What sparked my interest was the textbook author’s ability…

We risk educational disaster if we don’t treat our teachers better

Canadian taxpayers get a bargain on the backs of teachers

We risk educational disaster if we don’t treat our teachers betterCanada has one of the finest education systems in the world. It provides the backbone of our well-trained workforce and our strong economy. In addition, our schools have been great equalizers, providing the children of immigrants to our country with the opportunity to thrive and thus further enrich Canada. But our education system is struggling…
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