Monday, 12 March 2012 23:45

Back to the Education Drawing Board

 

Anyone wondering what has happened to our education system doesn’t have to look much farther than Ajax, Ontario, where Grade 12 student Paul Gomille recently was suspended for writing and distributing a ‘love letter’ to women. Really? In this time of talk about violence against women, now we are punishing those who express love for women?

This young man wasn’t espousing perversions with the fair sex or objectifying women. Just the opposite. He says, in part, “Real attractiveness comes from having a certain dignity. It comes from having class. It comes from being true to yourself, being yourself, and being comfortable in your own skin. This message is for all young women within the sound of my voice and beyond. You're all beautiful. You all have inner beauty AND outer beauty.” He says women don’t need to objectify themselves by dressing revealingly or trying to imitate the anorexic female entertainers and movie stars society has placed on a pedestal. He talks about the qualities “that really matter” in a woman.

That’s worthy of suspension? Perhaps someone should investigate the officials at the Catholic high school he attended who suspended him. His complete letter is available at: www.durhamregion.com/article/1307949--paul-s-letter.

But let’s not assume such attempts to control the expressions of our youth are anything new. Those attending my senior high school in the mid-60s may recall a student who was suspended because he combed his hair forward to resemble the style sported by The Beatles – a tiny bang covering less than a third of his forehead. Schools and school boards have since spent considerable effort trying to dictate the clothing students wear and other statements of individuality, usually in the name of preventing “distractions” for other students. How interesting that they are doing this while at the same time saying that modern curricula are meant to encourage individual learning styles etc. Which is it, folks?

Perhaps educators would be better off if they tried to ensure that graduating students could read, write, spell and do simple math so they could get jobs. The scorn for grades is an example of the disconnection between most education systems and the real world. Educators say giving marks to students discriminates against those who don’t do so well academically and harms their self-image. Really? What is the real world like, a world in which we’re graded in one way or another every day in the workplace? We do students a great disservice by not preparing them for this eventuality. Or is it just because teachers don’t want to spend too much time giving marks?

There are many good, caring teachers, principals and school district administrators out there who really want to make a difference in their students’ lives. They strive to be innovative and they put in long hours. But if the goal is to train our students to have the basics they need in the world, as well as teaching them to be creative and solve problems, etc., then the system is flawed and it needs fixing. For decades education has been fixed with band-aids and it’s time for an overhaul. Our students deserve an education system that prepares them for today’s real world. Imagine what could happen if we started with a blank sheet of paper and reinvented education from scratch, instead of trying to make improvements within an outdated and ineffective model. Every parent, teacher and employer should be demanding this of government. And government should listen.

- Bruce Lantz

 

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