Teacher competence in the subject they teach critical to learning

Despite what trendy education gurus say, a teacher's competence in their subject makes a noticeable difference to student achievement

Teacher competence in the subject they teach critical to learning“Teachers – don’t worry if you don’t have the knowledge or skill set. You are the lead learner. Inquire not lecture.” This was an actual tweet from a prominent education guru. Sadly, this message is far from isolated. There’s a common belief in education circles that teacher subject-matter expertise doesn’t matter a whole lot. The…

The trashy state of Ontario schools will only get worse

If schools look like internment campus, we shouldn’t be surprised if students try to escape

The trashy state of Ontario schools will only get worseOntario politics is never as interesting as when a Ford plows through the legislature and smashes everything. Since taking office as Ontario’s premier a month ago, Doug Ford has dumped a controversial sex ed curriculum, cut cap and trade, and promised to cull the number of councillors in Toronto’s city council. These decisions brought foam…

The rise of steel collar workers, the end of blue collar workers

Automation is taking over the workplace. That means our education system must adapt. So must the students seeking marketable skills

The rise of steel collar workers, the end of blue collar workersMy bank machine just wished me a happy birthday. It wasn’t the exact day but it asked me: Did you think we would forget that your birthday is this month? This struck me as just one more example of automation taking over what people used to do. No biological being had yet wished me a…

Education reform must be on the table in Ontario

The delivery and financing of education could produce better results for students and their families while saving money

Education reform must be on the table in OntarioBy Jason Clemens and Sazid Hasan Fraser Institute As the new Ontario government begins to fully grasp the enormity of the task it faces to return the province to prosperity, education reform must be front and centre. The need to balance the budget while introducing tax relief to make the province more competitive and attractive…

Why writing still matters

The combination of writing and speaking is thought itself. Only when we find the language can we grasp the idea

Why writing still mattersOf the educational policy battles currently raging, the usefulness of the SAT essay likely ranks near the bottom of most people’s minds. I know, you’re thinking: How could I not know this battle was raging? How have I not heard the artillery fire? You haven’t heard because it’s summer. And, truth be told, because the…

Ontario can learn from B.C.’s education model

Independent schools deliver higher student test scores at lower costs to taxpayers

Ontario can learn from B.C.’s education modelWith another school year ending, it’s a good time to reflect on kindergarten-to-Grade-12 education in Ontario. As the second largest area of provincial expenditure, it can’t escape review as incoming premier Doug Ford’s new government plans to rein in spending. Fortunately one only needs to look to British Columbia for an example of how independent…

Tests help improve student achievement

P.E.I. introduced standardized testing and student achievement substantially improved. Other provinces should take note

Tests help improve student achievementThe latest test results from the Pan-Canadian Assessment Program (PCAP) reveal that Prince Edward Island students scored among the highest in the country. It’s impressive, but even more so when we remember that a decade ago P.E.I. scored at the bottom of Canadian provinces. One shouldn’t read too much into the results of one assessment,…

Do you know who is watching your kids?

The academic world should allow students to speak freely, make mistakes, rebel and change their minds

Do you know who is watching your kids?The Chinese educational system takes a brute force approach to teaching: memorize everything. Teachers and parents smash information into the brains of students. The result is usually astonishing. The Chinese educational system excels at teaching discipline, and students from China are, to generalize, dedicated and earnest about their education, and smart, smart, smart. Through hours…

Chasing higher salaries, not higher things in life

Liberalizing the university curriculum offers something new but usually at the cost of wisdom

Chasing higher salaries, not higher things in lifeIs education liberal or conservative? I’m not talking about party politics. I mean something much more fundamental: Is the work of teachers inherently geared towards replicating scholastic and cultural traditions, or does school exist to prepare students for – and even usher in – social and cultural change? Does school make history or just teach…

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…
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