The Ontario Government rather quietly asked for feedback from the general public about school curriculum design. The deadline for submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org was December 15, 2018.
Advancement of Women Halton (AWH) hosted a community consultation to formulate a response to the questions posed. After a very lively and far-reaching debate among a variety of participants, the group submitted its suggestions, including:
On STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math): Need for excellent math teacher role models in the elementary panel, more emphasis on understanding math language and on mastering basic skills, need for a stable math curriculum based on solid research, instilling enthusiasm for science and technology,
On Job Skills: Introducing apprenticeships, business partnerships and trade scholarships, introducing a caregiver skills course for the disabled, the elderly and the very young; teaching transferable skills such as critical thinking, planning, adapting to change.
On Standardised Testing: While accountability is important, not every school needs to be evaluated every year. Standardised test results should be used to identify areas where money and resources must be invested in order to improve scores. Put more emphasis on diagnostic testing/formative evaluation. There is no value in discovering at year end what students cannot do.
On Financial Literacy: Add this as a math strand from Grade 2 onwards. Use games and competitions as teaching tools.
On cell phone use: Don’t ban completely as phones are valuable teaching tool. Maybe park phones to avoid distraction. Research is needed on the impact of cell phone and tablets technology on the listening attention and mental health of teens and pre-teens as well as on the responsible use of social media.
On Health and Physical Education curriculum: Do not discard the well-researched and comprehensive curriculum including all these concepts that was put in place by the former government. Add relationship building, nurturance and empathy, recognizing and putting an end to sex stereotyping, dismantling power and privilege that are building blocks of sexual violence. To promote physical and mental well-being, Health Ed. and Physical Ed. should be mandatory at every grade level JK-12
On Parents’ Bill of Rights: This idea promotes an adversarial atmosphere; progress is much greater when parents and schools are working in partnership. On the reverse side of any proposed Bill of Rights should be a *List of Parent/Caregiver Responsibilities including: Provide the necessities of life such as shelter, food, health care, safety, a place to sleep and study. Re instate the office of Child Advocate and properly fund social safety nets so that all children have the opportunity and resources to meet their potential.
Other ideas included:
- We do need enthusiastic energetic educators. But, while youth and energy and enthusiasm are important, experience and understanding of child development are also essential.
- Beginning Teacher Coaches (recent retirees) can contribute invaluable practical experience. One coach for every 15 new hires in every school board would be a worthwhile investment.
- Use debates in every subject area from time to time to encourage critical thinking and expose students to conflicting points of view. Children need to meet with some adversity in order to build resilience.
- One great advantage of the Ontario education system is that it seeks to raise all students, rather than identify a few who are worthy of the investment of money, time and effort. Continued focus on equity and quality is essential.