Why traditional schooling fosters better results

Most students learn best in a structured and orderly school environment that’s directed by a good teacher

Why traditional schooling fosters better resultsPicture a school in an underprivileged part of north London, England.  One-third of nearby families live in poverty, a significant percentage are visible minorities, and the neighbourhood crime rate is twice the national average. What kind of academic results would you expect from this school? If you expected this school to score below average, think…

COVID-19 forces the return of traditional teaching

COVID-19 forces the return of traditional teachingDesks in rows with students facing the front of the room. Teachers providing lots of direct instruction. Students spending plenty of time doing individual practice work in their desks. No, we didn’t travel back to the 1950s. This is what many classrooms look like during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not a bad thing. In fact,…

Don’t be too hasty to rename schools

Instead of renaming schools, we should educate students about the legacy behind their current names – good and bad

Don’t be too hasty to rename schoolsIf some petitioners get their way, Cecil Rhodes School will be no more. The Winnipeg school would still exist, but under a new name. No doubt most Canadians who hear about this have one burning question: Who is Cecil Rhodes? Rhodes was a 19th-century British politician who served as prime minister of Cape Colony, a…

Canadian students need a return to regular classes this fall

Students learn best when they develop strong personal connections with their teachers. We need to stop dwelling on worst-case scenarios

Canadian students need a return to regular classes this fallOne thing we’ve learned this year is that global pandemics have a big impact on teaching and learning. In mid-March, regular kindergarten-to-Grade-12 classes across Canada were suspended and instruction moved online. While schools in some provinces partially reopened in June, this doesn’t mean things are back to normal just yet. Students gained limited access to…

Let’s be realistic about physical distancing in schools

It’s absurd to think that physical distancing in schools will look like it does in grocery stores

Let’s be realistic about physical distancing in schoolsThese days, grocery shopping looks a little different than usual. People wait patiently outside the store in long, spaced out, lineups. Direction arrows show customers where to move next. Customers stand at least six feet apart in the checkout lines. Cashiers carefully disinfect their terminals before the next customer arrives. These measures are designed to…

Rigid focus on seniority hurts teachers and students

Rigid focus on seniority hurts teachers and studentsImagine you are a public school principal. You need to hire a teacher and you have two applicants who meet the basic job requirements. The first applicant has 10 years of teaching experience and regularly scores outstanding performance reviews. The second has 15 years of experience but receives only satisfactory performance reviews. Which teacher would…

Education faculties fail to prepare young teachers to be effective

Education schools often tilt from one useless fad to another with little practical use in actual classrooms

Education faculties fail to prepare young teachers to be effectiveIn 1933, the retiring president of Harvard University, Lawrence Lowell, famously stated that his university’s school of education was “a kitten that ought to be drowned.” Of course, university presidents wouldn’t talk like this today. But Lowell was far from the only scholar to hold education schools in such low repute – and for good…

Basic subject knowledge best way to improve reading skills

Reading is not just about decoding individual words. In order to read effectively, you must also understand what you’re reading

Basic subject knowledge best way to improve reading skillsLast year, Newfoundland and Labrador’s government published a roadmap to better government in the future, with the title The Way Forward. This ambitious document outlines how the government plans to modernize the public sector, build its economy for a sustainable future, and improve educational outcomes. Earlier this year, the provincial government released its Education Action…

Teacher competence in the subject they teach critical to learning

Despite what trendy education gurus say, a teacher's competence in their subject makes a noticeable difference to student achievement

Teacher competence in the subject they teach critical to learning“Teachers – don’t worry if you don’t have the knowledge or skill set. You are the lead learner. Inquire not lecture.” This was an actual tweet from a prominent education guru. Sadly, this message is far from isolated. There’s a common belief in education circles that teacher subject-matter expertise doesn’t matter a whole lot. The…
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