Im­prov­ing learn­ing sit­u­a­tion for youth es­sen­tial

Cape Breton Post - - EDITORIAL -

With four de­grees and diplo­mas, I con­sider my­self a welle­d­u­cated per­son. As such, I have been fol­low­ing the work-to-rule stance adopted by the Nova Sco­tia Teach­ers’ Union (NSTU) with in­ter­est and I think sev­eral points stand out.

Firstly, we send our young­sters to school in or­der to learn and our success in this en­deav­our is prob­a­bly best eval­u­ated by the com­par­a­tive scores of our stu­dents on PISA (pro­gram for stu­dent as­sess­ment), which as­sesses the sci­ence, math and read­ing skills of our 15-year-old stu­dents.

Cur­rently, we do not mea­sure up all that well. Pro­grams such as in­clu­sion, while help­ing to hold down the cost of ed­u­ca­tion, do not help our teach­ers. These pro­grams work bet­ter in an en­vi­ron­ment where the re­quired tools and sys­tem sup­ports are in place (e.g. teach­ers aids).

As my cousin, a math teacher, once said: “We are forced to ac­cept that medi­ocrity is OK.”

I don’t con­sider my­self to have been a stand­out stu­dent in grade school or high school, but I do re­mem­ber the ef­forts of my teach­ers to ad­vance my ed­u­ca­tion.

As a for­mer Riverview High stu­dent, I rec­og­nize the im­por­tance of the Red Cup and also the Coal Bowl, both of which are iconic com­pe­ti­tions that show­case the ath­leti­cism of our youth and the hos­pi­tal­ity of our com­mu­ni­ties on the na­tional stage. These, how­ever, are not the real is­sues fac­ing our com­mu­nity with re­gards to ed­u­ca­tion, and they should not carry great weight in the de­ci­sion mak­ing as­so­ci­ated with the on­go­ing teach­ers’ dis­pute.

Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity pro­fes­sors and in­struc­tors re­cently faced pos­si­ble job ac­tion, and job ac­tion has taken place over the yeas at other Mar­itimes uni­ver­si­ties such as Aca­dia, which has im­pacted stu­dents. So I find it ironic that uni­ver­si­ties would con­sider lit­i­ga­tion against the NSTU’s fight for im­prove­ment in their abil­ity to teach our youth the skills nec­es­sary for these same uni­ver­si­ties.

I can only con­clude that the driv­ing fac­tor be­hind their ac­tions would be the loss of money to their cof­fers caused by re­fund­ing tu­ition to stu­dent teach­ers.

I would sug­gest that any­thing that im­proves the learn­ing sit­u­a­tion for our youth is taken very, very se­ri­ously, and that we all look to the big pic­ture in ed­u­ca­tion and the rea­sons why things are as they are.

Robert Macneill, Bsc (hon­ours), MD, FRCP Syd­ney

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