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.
On Wednesday October 10, a four-member delegation from AWH met with Pam Damoff, MP to discuss Canada’s correctional system. As a member of the Standing Committee on Public Safety, Pam is well placed to move our ideas forward in Ottawa. We were pleased to learn that Pam has toured many correctional institutions in Canada and shares our concerns about the current welfare and future prospects of the inmates.
Our delegation expressed our wish for a lower rate of incarceration in Canada where many of the inmates spend months on remand waiting for a court date simply because they can’t pay the bail amount. We stated our worry about the overrepresentation of poor and indigenous Canadians in the prison population, and our concern about the long-term social effects on children separated from their mothers.
We expressed our opposition to solitary confinement as a corrections strategy and our opposition to mandatory minimum sentences.
MP Damoff received our positions graciously and said she will keep us informed about any developments on our stated objectives.
October 18 is Persons Day in Canada!
It marks the day in 1929 when the historic decision to include women in the legal definition of “persons” was handed down by Canada’s highest court of appeal. This gave women the right to be appointed to the Senate of Canada and paved the way for women’s increased participation in public and political life.
On October 18 2018 Advancement of Women Halton had the pleasure of hearing from two women mayoral candidates in the municipal election. Julia Hanna (Oakville) and Marianne Meed-Ward (Burlington) shared some of the challenges they face while running for office. Being dismissed as irrational, negative or incompetent by male opponents still happens today, 89 years after that historic decision. Nevertheless, these two women show an energy, passion and determination to succeed.
Members of AWH, Chair Tina Agrell, Bev Lefrancois, Lorraine Green and Teri Shaw, met with Stephen Crawford, MPP Oakville, on Thursday, Sept.6. The meeting gave us the opportunity to share with him Our Halton 2018: Women, prepared by Community Development Halton, analysis and research based on the 2016 Census and other public information.