2 more years of the same–growth and learning
Sometimes being a radical is merely a function of where you are. While seemingly conservative, I have, what will likely be perceived, in this context, as a radical idea—don’t change anything! While the system could use tweaking, and teachers can certainly improve their skills, I believe the system is fine the way it is—I believe that we risk much by changing it.
When I leave work at the end of the day, I feel content. I feel that I have had an efficient, positive impact on my students; I feel like I have earned that feeling and society’s money. This is not just a function of me trying my best, but it is a function of a system that allows for that best to work.
I don’t think that we will ever have a perfect system in the messy world of education and as such, I don’t think that should be our goal. No one system is going to work equally well for everyone so we have to stop judging ours in unrealistic hyperbolic terms. We can’t accept a dichotomy of: if not perfect, then it’s broken. We can’t say, if its not perfect, it needs to change. If someone has to work harder, or gets less out of it, or takes an extra year to finish, or has to discover some of their talents and strengths somewhere else, then, while not desirable, that doesn’t mean the system failed or that they derived no benefit from it.
When John Snobelon was caught saying that the PC’s were going to create a useful crisis in education, it caused a bit of a stir, but it turn s out that it wasn’t all that unique an idea. People have been doing it in education before and after Snobelon. They do it to sell a new program or to stimulate change. I think its a bit of a hyperbolic strategy. I don’t feel the crisis. I believe that my class prepares students and helps them grow academically and as individuals. I believe that our current system allows for that. I’m not sure I could continue teaching with a clear conscience if I didn’t.
Our education system might have been conceived of in a different age, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that it is outdated. Many things, such as the student mind and physical bodies, were conceived of in a different age, and yet, have shown remarkable ability to adapt. Constantly changing and updating is not the same as constantly improving. While our intentions may be good, rarely do we have comparative data by which to judge one technique superior to another. There are so many ways to teacher and learn. Each style has advantages and concerns to manage. Change often means favouring one at the expense of all others—it is rarely (if ever) well justified—merely well intentioned.
I do better with a lesson/topic/or activity, when I have talk it a couple of times. My students do better. While not as fun or exciting for me after a few times, it is for them, if not more, and since I am here for them, repetition and mastery are desirable. I believe that this is true for the system as well. We have had 10 years of growth in Ontario by every measure used, have we plateaued? No yet! I believe we should continue with this growth trajectory. Sometimes deep understanding and effectiveness must trump innovation.
Our system is incredible well conceived. It is flexible and enduring – and it is working well. I would like it to continue. I remember past experiments in education that were well meant but ineffective (e.g. open concept, whole language, some might consider resource withdrawl, etc); presently, education is working well and getting better – why change?
Innovation can happen at the classroom level with a committed and well versed teacher. The system allows for that. Why change it to a system that wouldn’t allow me that choice? Why reject all or most or the 182 teaching strategies in the teaching/learning companion (http://www.ocup.org/resources/documents/companions/telrsta2002.pdf) for a favoured few for everybody?
The adaptability of out system allows for individuals to construct an education experience that they can tailor to their needs/strengths and those of their students. I would hate to lose that strength.