Improving learning situation for youth essential
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