Ontario public school curricula Dec 13

Date:   21 Dec. 13
By:       Frank Gue, B.Sc., MBA, P.Eng.,
For:      MPP Rob Leone, Ed. critic, <rob.leone@pc.ola.org>
cc:        MPPs Jane McKenna <jane.mckenna@pc.ola.org>,  Lisa Macleod, <lisa.macleod@pc.ola.org>, Frank Klees,
Re:       Curriculum – The Economist  Dec. 14, P. 83, “Free Exchange”
Good evening, MPP Rob.
When I am introduced to a teacher, I always ask what his/her training in Teachers College did to prepare him/her for actual classroom work.  I have learned not to be surprised when the answer is, as usual,  “Nothing”.  Small wonder if ay part of that training uses the Ontario curricula.  
The Economist’s article spurred me once more to check one curriculum and again I became infuriated.  It is dozens of pages, poorly organized, close typed, with no subject headings and little continuity, comprising endless philosophy, abstraction, and hypotheticals, freely using PhD-level verbiage like “affective” and “experiential”.  How a trainee (or practicing) teacher would create a rigorous Program of Studies from a curriculum like this is a mystery to me, speaking as a former teacher who has had this to do.  Not surprising, then, that Ontario schools’ results vary so widely: some educators can hack it, some simply cannot.
To quote The Economist in their article of the OECD’s recently released PISA results:
“The OECD thinks the quality of teachers matters most [in getting numeracy and literacy results, but] J-PAL’s finding also goes against the grain of what many parents believe: that the focus should be on the quality of the curriculum [good for the parents!].”   
(J-PAL is a NGO dedicated to measurement of statistically provable results in education, health care etc.  The Fraser Institute has a corporate motto to the effect that, “If it matters, measure it.”  The design and manufacture of every product we use day-to-day has been measured at every stage.  In contrast, educators almost unanimously reject measurement (tests, exams, assignments) and will not even use the word “results”.)
Internationally respected authorities for decades have named get the best curricula,  provide choice, get the best teachers, as being among the sine qua non requirements for  getting good education results.  Ontario’s curricula earn an “F” set against these criteria.  The last two, teacher quality and choice, similarly important, are other subjects for another day.
We have to fix our curricula.
Cheers, and a Merry Christmas!
Frank Gue

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