Remembering memorization, the cornerstone of learning

Students must develop mastery over technique before they can experiment, if the experiment is to have any shape or meaning

Remembering memorization, the cornerstone of learningThe smartest man I’ve ever met had a mind like a high-definition camera. Everything he viewed played on his mind with crystal clarity. He memorized the baseball statistics in the morning paper. A guilty pleasure, he said. He also had a library of poetry memorized. When he lectured, he pulled references, allusions and lines from…

Unions can help teachers resist pointless education fads

Being on the front lines, teachers must implement the latest fads. Then they get blamed when the fads crash and burn

Unions can help teachers resist pointless education fadsThe primary responsibility of teachers’ unions is to represent their members. This includes advocating for better wages, opposing unfair working conditions and ensuring that all teachers receive due process when their jobs are in jeopardy. Obviously, these are the very basic issues. Unions can do something else that would be of immense benefit to their…

Reading comprehension depends on content knowledge

A student may be able to decode every single word in an article but still be clueless about the meaning since they know virtually nothing about the subject

Reading comprehension depends on content knowledgeWalk into an elementary school classroom and you’ll probably see a lot of books on the shelf. Take a closer look and you’ll often find a coloured dot, a number or a letter on each book’s spine. Those dots, numbers and letters show the reading level of each book. Books are assigned levels so students…

Second line of O Canada should read “Our home on native land”

One small change to the words of O Canada will remind us of our historic debt and help facilitate broader knowledge of Indigenous issues

Second line of O Canada should read “Our home on native land”The catalogue of injustices experienced by Canada’s Indigenous people is long and tragic: residential schools, missing and murdered women, and high incarceration rates, to name just a few. Reading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report on residential schools is a gut-wrenching reminder of just one of the catastrophes they have survived. Against this backdrop, the…

Fixing the democratic deficit in local education

How to rebuild a more robust model of local involvement and governance to deliver education in Nova Scotia

Fixing the democratic deficit in local educationThe days are numbered for Nova Scotia’s seven English-language school boards. In January, the province's Department of Education and Early Childhood Development released a report it had commissioned from Avis Glaze. Since the release of the report, Raise the Bar, defenders of the existing order have rallied behind the status quo and claimed that eliminating…

Don’t judge historic figures without knowledge of our history

Canadian curriculums fail students when it comes to teaching the content necessary to have informed, intelligent debate

Don’t judge historic figures without knowledge of our historyLast fall, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario demanded that Sir John A. Macdonald’s name be stricken from all public schools in the province. More recently, Halifax city council voted to remove the Edward Cornwallis statue that had stood downtown since 1931. Both decisions were vigorously debated and public opinion remains sharply divided. These are…

UCP: go back to school on proposed education reforms

The Alberta party’s proposal to increase funding for independent schools is unlikely to improve education in Alberta

UCP: go back to school on proposed education reformsBy Angela MacLeod and Jason Clemens The Fraser Institute Alberta’s United Conservative Party (UCP) recently released a host of policy proposals in advance of its annual general meeting in May. They included proposed reforms in education that are unlikely to achieve their goals and could make things worse. The proposals presume that Alberta’s kindergarten-to-Grade-12 education system needs…

Are university professors obsolete?

Students of the future won’t be limited to a local institution or faculty member. And much more learning will be less formal and structured

Are university professors obsolete?What future awaits university professors? Do you remember telephone operators, mostly women who worked at switchboards connecting and disconnecting phone calls? Operators have long been replaced by automation and the various voicemail mazes we all struggle through. Did you see that wonderful film Hidden Figures, where “coloured computers” – very smart black women – did,…

Looking back to gain perspective on higher education

Time to abandon the factory-model, cheap-labour practices of colleges; time to push back against thoughtcrime; and to celebrate Precilla Veigas

Looking back to gain perspective on higher educationThe new year asks us to look back before we can move forward. For post-secondary educators in Ontario, two problems of the last year deserve careful reflection as we enter 2018. The disastrous college strike sits at the top of the list. In October, part-time instructors at Ontario’s 24 public colleges went on strike to…

Breaching the fine line between teaching and brainwashing

Being a teacher means making sure your students are exposed to more than one perspective

Breaching the fine line between teaching and brainwashingThere’s a fine line between teaching and brainwashing. Teaching informs students about the world around them and helps them become critical thinkers. In contrast, brainwashing provides students with heavily skewed information that leads to one predetermined conclusion. It’s easy to mix these two things up if we aren’t careful. People who work in schools are…
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