Ontario Education, Oh My!
March 26, 2019
Apparently students in the Ontario Elementary and Secondary Public School system, according to reports, are not faring well in standardized tests compared to the results of either previous years or global achievements.
The Ontario Government has a solution. Increase class sizes, reduce the number of teachers, restrict access to education and support for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and threaten teachers should they disagree. Certainly seems like a rational approach to improving education now doesn’t it!
I am neither an educator nor a politician; however, I am a concerned Ontarian and proud Canadian who cannot, even after much discernment, understand this approach. Many reputable and well respected studies in both Canada and the United States have determined that the ideal class size for learning averages 18, with a minimum of 15 and maximum if 25. In a class of less than 15 students, many students feel singled out if they have questions, they are afraid they will sound “stupid”, so participation is limited. More than 25 and they get lost in the shuffle as the teacher does not have time for individual attention and the students understanding is not addressed. Participation and discovery in class not only addresses academic learning, but also provides a sound basis for life skill learning.
Larger class sizes means fewer teachers, fewer teachers means less teaching, less teaching means less formal learning. Larger classes with fewer teachers, coupled with the slashing of ASD funding, translates to de-education, not education. E-learning is on the horizon, a viable support, but in itself not a solution. With fewer teachers, who will be the facilitators, the mentors? All this after our premier has emphatically repeated, “…not one, not one single teacher will lose their job…“.
My closing point on this matter refers to our premier`s apparent understanding of democracy. On Friday last week in Ottawa he blatantly threatened the teachers` unions.“… against taking any action to protest…I`d think twice if I were them.“ he proudly announced. Not my understanding of either leadership or democracy.
Are we willing to put the future of Ontario at risk by failing to provide our young people with the best education we possibly can?
Other views are welcome.