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…

Memorization, practise and critical thinking go hand-in-hand

It's unreasonable to assume that students can practise critical thinking without first acquiring substantial background knowledge

Memorization, practise and critical thinking go hand-in-handAll students should become critical thinkers. The ability to synthesize and evaluate information, and come up with new ways of looking at things is highly prized in education circles from kindergarten to graduate school. Given the importance of critical thinking, it’s not surprising that schools across the country proudly trumpet the progress they make in…

Good teachers matter more than small class size

Reducing class sizes is a costly initiative with little payback

Good teachers matter more than small class sizePrince Edward Island opposition MLA Sidney MacEwen made headlines earlier this month when he challenged the government to enforce class-size limits. But the evidence shows such a move is costly and relatively fruitless in terms of academic gain. MacEwen, a Progressive Conservative, zeroed in on supposedly large kindergarten classes and called on the Liberal government…

Meaningless education fads have got to go

Schools should instead focus on producing a coherent curriculum, sound lessons and purposeful reading and writing in every discipline

Meaningless education fads have got to goStudent achievement is declining in Nova Scotia. The 2014-15 accountability report from the Department of Education makes that abundantly clear. Barely half of Grade 8 students are meeting expectations in math while the writing skills of Grades 3 and 6 students declined by nearly 20 points in the last two years. Nova Scotia students also…

Technology alone should not drive education reform

Hopefully a new report from the OECD slows down the mad rush to equip students of all ages with the latest computer gadgets

Technology alone should not drive education reformA recent OECD report dropped a bombshell on those who view technology as the driving force of education reform. The report found that “students who use computers very frequently at school do a lot worse in most learning outcomes, even after accounting for social background and student demographics.” The report was authored by Andreas Schleicher, Organization…

Distractions are sometimes good for learning

Even interruptions may not be as bad as previously thought

Distractions are sometimes good for learningMost teachers and students know the conventional do’s and don’ts of proper studying habits. For example, students should find a quiet environment free of distractions. Don’t play any background music, and don’t let your mind wander. And, above all, don’t stop working when you are making good progress. These do’s and don’ts exist because conventional…