“Biggest bang for your buck” education system isn’t cutting it!

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School is out! Graduates have some special memories, but COVID-19 ensured this was no typical event. But what has the time spent at school given to the
students? Just what should these new graduates know? As Charles Darwin observed, humans have a natural instinct to walk and talk, but reading and

School is out! Graduates have some special memories, but COVID-19 ensured this was no typical event. But what has the time spent at school given to the
students? Just what should these new graduates know? As Charles Darwin observed, humans have a natural instinct to walk and talk, but reading and
writing are not instinctive – they must be taught, and what is taught is the result of cultural standards of the day. Today, much is made of the fact that current school programmes do not cover the past injustices suffered by minorities in
our country. The demand that this be rectified is becoming more intense and our politicians are promising improvements in this area of education.
A few years ago, the educational issue was all about STEM (science,
technology, engineering, mathematics). In our rapidly changing digital
age, knowledge of computer/communications technology, coding, environmental science, physics, chemistry and mathematics were deemed essential and the future of our civilization depended on an understanding of them. But the situation is a bit more complicated. Wise use of these technologies demands knowledge of ethics, finance, critical thinking, history, geography and politics. Add to this the “human factors”: students need sports, recreation and exercise. The result of this educational programme? Employers complained that newly hired students lacked skills essential to being effective in the workplace.
So an accomplished student is expected to attend twenty-five hours a day, eight days a week, with time for homework and extra-curricular activities not included. Perhaps some will think this is an exaggeration; school is not that bad. But it does point to something wrong in our educational system, a system where students
are taught a fixed set of subjects and are expected to pass a fixed set of tests. Such a system may introduce the student to a lot of facts, but little in terms
of deep knowledge and wisdom.
The issue is neither the teachers nor the students. Our teachers are well-trained, dedicated and prepared to put in extra time and effort to ensure student success. Students are at an age where they can quickly pick up new ideas and
actually enjoy learning in the right environment.
The problem is with the system. Dependent upon funds from government sources and subject to political whims, our educational system is expected to give the “biggest bang for the buck.” This means large class sizes, limited funds for external activities such as inviting a noted scientist or author to the school or a class trip to a museum or art gallery. In simple terms, what’s not in the textbooks isn’t taught. Each text covers one subject. Thus, a word problem in mathematics is presented to the student without any regard for their language skills. But, with limited budgets and large class sizes, there are not many alternatives.
Scandinavian countries, especially Finland, have given solid evidence for smaller classes more oriented to the specific needs of each individual student. Québec (and all of Canada) should initiate an educational system based on
individual students rather than a plethora of subjects.