Public education is failing in Peel Region

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Editors Note: This article was submitted by a current Peel District School Board teacher. We have agreed not to publish their name. Article Photo provided to illustrate innovation in education. —

I dreamed as a young teacher at the Peel District School Board to make an impact with all of my students. Ten years later I now dread my work day. I do less teaching and more classroom management. Students are distracted, parents are absent, and school administrators are ineffective.

Our education system is not developing students that can compete on a global scale. Students should be curious, love learning, think critically, be able to communicate and learn from taking risks. They yearn to be all of these things. We have failed at keeping up to do that in our public schools. The system is still organized to produce citizens to play it safe, to conform and to be average.

We need an overhaul if we expect a future where wealth isn’t hoarded by a few of us, and where society tackles our challenges head on. We need to compete and lead so that we get to rewrite the rules for a better world. Unfortunately, we are stuck with an education system that has not changed since the late 1800’s even though the pace of change everywhere else is accelerating.

I have seen a consistent decline in our education standards. When students don’t meet the standard, we label them with a learning disability and lower the standard. How is this preparing our students to be competitive as adults? We instruct students to follow rules, get a higher education and society will open doors for them. Yet we have more young adults living with their parents, under-employed and straddled with student loan debt.

Our current system is focused on repetition, rules, and small contained problems. Subjects are broken down into time-based chunks that change when the bell rings. The structure continues to prepare students for factory environments that no longer exist. Our position in the world as leaders, innovators, caretakers and stewards is at risk.

Students need to learn how to learn, not just what to learn. They need opportunities to explore and discover their interests and to apply it in meaningful ways. We need students to question the world we live in and solve problems they encounter along the way.

Technology by itself will not solve the problems in education. Students certainly like using technology. They are heavy consumers of tech and media. Yet very few students are producers, explaining why initiatives like bring your own device has failed in the classroom.

The role of teachers and administrators needs to morph from the keeper of answers to that of facilitators, motivators, consultants, guides and managers of talent. We need to help all students use their available resources to achieve their goals and dreams.

I am not hopeful that the system will change. I and most of my colleagues do the best we can for the students that pass through our classrooms each year. We conform to a system that is beyond our individual ability to change. For my own children, I am looking into homeschooling and other experiences. I want them to get an education that prepares them well for the future.

Watch: Re-Imagining Education (TedX talks)