My hope, my prayer, is that society’s view of child development will continue to evolve and we will embrace the need (as I see it) to absolutely, unconditionally commit to child development from K-3.
I think it is common knowledge that “children can’t learn on an empty stomach”. Yet the institutions and programs are not in place to make sure that children are fed properly before classes start and then again during midday. If they were we’d see universal access to breakfast and lunch programs at all schools. Public and private. In wealthy neighborhoods as much as poor ones.
No means test would be applied. You want your child to participate, they participate. Use the tax system to claw back as necessary.
I think some very difficult questions need to be addressed about the rights of unions versus the rights of children. Our Canadian union movement has a noble heritage here in Canada. But, if education for very young children is a right, it must be asked why unions – any union, not just teachers’ unions – have a right to shut down student access to schools and student access to learning?
I don’t think they do. And I get angry when I hear about students who lose a large chunk of the school year, who miss out on extra-curricular activities, and who miss out on the once-in-a-lifetime graduation ceremony. The child’s right to an education must come first.
No one has a right to exploit that right for their own gain. In my estimation this has been happening.
This is pretty intense, so let’s take a recess. Teacher’s take a well-deserved break, but what happens to kids?
Well, for one thing, because of laws restricting who can supervise children, they are basically shunted outside unsupervised. Yes, there are a couple of teachers “on duty”, but recess is where the bullying happens. And what happens at recess tends to stay at recess.
Why can’t we outsource recess? Too business like? Too expensive? I doubt in a re-think of child-development funding it would be too expensive. I think, in fact, our children deserve organized games (should they choose to participate), and the school experience could be GREATLY enhanced by a re-engineered recess.
We’re back in class, recess is over. What exactly is the role of the teacher? More importantly, how is that they hold themselves out to be uniquely qualified to be in charge of students?
Good teachers understand subject matter, lessons, curriculum. They also understand classroom management: how to make some order out of the chaos that naturally arises when you bring a bunch of children together.
But it needs to be said that, even though teachers have a university education, (most) don’t bring knowledge of children in general, child behavior and child development that educational assistants and child and youth workers bring. Teachers study a “teachable”, a subject, at university. So they come out knowing, say English, really well. Then they go to teacher’s college to learn how to translate that knowledge into age-appropriate, creative, lesson plans.
This is a skill. It is a desirable skill. It is a necessary skill.
But because unions have negotiated that the teacher is the only one who can be in charge of a group of students, this skill has become overvalued.
How else can it be said: the person who can write curriculum is not necessarily the person who can deliver it.
The needs of young children are intense and consuming. The kindergarten teacher and the grade 1 teacher are faced with extraordinary challenges that are draining beyond most people’s understanding. One almost needs to be a Saint to to do the job.
So it leads to the question – why so many teachers and so few EAs and CYWs? I said it before and I’ll say it again: teachers have been taught curriculum, but other there are professionals that know children, and currently their expertise is pretty much shut out.
Also, teacher’s unions have made teachers very expensive. This may be good for them, but it has come at the expense of the needs of children – which I hold must come first. The result is that contribution of other professions has been blocked and children have not been given the full opportunity to realize their potential (at least, as much as the education system can provide).
Before moving on to the really repugnant part, let me summarize: the way in which children are educated and cared for during the early years k-3 needs to reevaluated. The needs of children unequivocally must be put first. A re-evaluation of the skills of the various contributors needs to be re-evaluated so that the “delivery team” or the “delivery mechanism” can be re-aligned.
I promised repugnance. Here you go.
“School vouchers” really needs to be brought to the table. [Ontario Politician] John Tory bravely proposed the idea of public funding for religious schools. He was killed (electorally).
I don’t think his idea went far enough.
For example, the number of Montessori schools in York Region, Ontario is mind-boggling. Parents are paying out of their own pocket to have their own children educated with this alternative philosophy. Montessori isn’t the only model: There’s Waldorf and countless other private schools.
And finally … Some very difficult conversations around teacher salaries are going to have to be had. We put a number of professions under the roof of a school. Why is it that only one group gets benefits pretty much everyone else in society only dreams of?