Old 08-30-2007, 02:23 PM   #1
devonin
Very Grave Indeed
FFR Simfile AuthorFFR Veteran
 
devonin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Ontario, Canada
Age: 36
Posts: 10,098
Send a message via AIM to devonin Send a message via MSN to devonin
Default [Essay] Problems with the Canadian Education System

This paper was written for a first year philosophy course in reasoning skills. We were presented with the article named in the introduction, and told to describe its basic argument and to take a position on the issue, and defend it. The argument refers primarily to Canadian schools, but as we've had plenty of crossover in our education discussions in the past, we can easily make it about the basic concepts discussed, and not necessarily the specific instance of its use in Canada.

Quote:
In the article “Johnny can’t read, and he’s in college” from the Globe and Mail in September of 2005, the author describes what they consider to be a pressing concern in the Canadian education system. The purpose of this paper shall be to set out the basic tenets of the article’s argument, and express my own position on the issue. It will also defend that position against logical and likely criticisms, as well as provide a critical assessment of the arguments presented in the article.

The article claims that an increasingly large number of Canadian University students are entering university with basic if not outright poor skills in reading, writing, and in many cases mathematics. The article goes on to say that this is a result of either “The school system…which would amount to inexcusable ignorance; or the system…shuffling them along anyway, which would be both lazy and dishonest.” (Globe and Mail, pg1) No matter which reasoning is behind the problem, says the author, the problem is being left for universities to deal with, where it does not belong.

The article claims that high marks are required to gain acceptance into a university, yet, in spite of that, the university programs are "bursting at the seams."(Globe and Mail, pg1) At the same time, these students have shown very poor performance on proficiency tests. Some 40% of surveyed professors reported that “not some, most”(Globe and Mail, pg1) of their students demonstrated a lack of the basic skills necessary for university; hence, a direct link can be made in defence of placing the blame squarely on secondary and elementary schools for failing to educate their students properly.

The article goes on to describe the lack of remedial programs in Canadian schools, as compared to the widespread presence of these programs in the United States, where “seventy-six percent of degree-granting institutions offer them.” (Globe and Mail, pg1) and that even schools that -do- have remedial programs for reading and writing (Mine, incidentally had no such programs) tend towards making attendance voluntary, and the concept of remedial help carries such a negative stigma that few students would be willing to realise the benefits to themselves and take part.

It is my opinion that the article is correct in its assertion that it is vitally important to emphasize identification of students with needs, and create mandatory enrolment in remedial programs for those students. The very integrity of a functioning education system rests on its ability to claim that it educates well, not simply well enough.

One area, however, which the article only touches lightly upon but fails to investigate in any real depth, is the issue of marks failing to accurately reflect ability. It is an area that I feel bears a much closer look. Mentioning, “There is little honour in being on the honour roll any more.” (Globe and Mail, pg1) the author of the article implies that the ‘easy marks’ and ‘grade inflation’ resulting from schools looking to boost their image, and make themselves look good is only having students be “set up for failure.” (Globe and Mail, pg1) This is an issue I am very familiar with. With websites like ratemyteacher.com and ratemyprofessor.com specifically carrying a rating for ‘easiness’ and schools being dependant on performance for funding, it’s small wonder that there is motivation to let weaker students slip through with higher marks than they deserve.

The article concludes that the necessary course of action that needs to be taken by schools is that they “need to demand more of their students, and give them the tools to meet the demands.” (Globe and Mail, pg1) I agree wholeheartedly with this course. There needs to be more testing, from an earlier age. The Grade 9 literacy test mentioned in the article is many -many- years too late to be establishing whether someone is literate. Testing needs to happen at key years of development. Testing in grade three, six, eight, and twelve would allow for a greater ability to gauge the progress of students and help catch problems before they become systemic. Additionally, more programs need to be created to make up the lacking skills sooner rather than later.

The logical first objection is that the budgeting required to institute national-level legislation to create programs, testing to see whether people should be admitted into those programs, and staffing those programs might be prohibitive. To this I would say that the government (In Ontario at least) is already setting aside so much money for university-level student loans that is essentially being wasted by students who fail out, or drop out, due to their inability to function at a university level anyway. Sure, the government eventually gets the money back, plus interest, but the only monetary gain is in the comparatively small interest payments, since these students aren’t serving the purpose of the loans, by acquiring a degree that allows them to work in a more specialized, skilled field. Breaking even to allow someone else to waste their time is hardly as good a use for the money as would programs that give students the skills to earn their degree.

It also seems clear to me that there needs to be clearer guidelines for what level of work constitutes which grade. While national standardised testing can prove incredibly difficult to implement, something along those lines would serve to allow higher standards to be set, and met, across the board. It would also allow for definitive standards, to make sure that a teacher isn’t as able to give out ‘an easy grade.’

Higher minimum grades required to pass courses would also help with this problem. If the pass rate were raised from 50% to 60% or even 65% it would be easier to identify students in need of remedial help, as well as motivate students to independently seek out assistance, instead of coasting through with low passes.

Yet another possible method of correcting the problem so aptly discussed in the article would be a segmentation of courses earlier in schooling. It is generally not until high school that a true segmentation of subjects takes place. In earlier years, you are simply in ‘grade X’ and pass or fail the year as a whole. If courses were segmented as in high school from earlier grades, it would help de-stigmatize the concept of being ‘held back’ because instead of being behind a full year, one would only have to repeat subjects in which they were struggling. This would allow for closer attention to students in need of extra help, and obviate the need for costly separate remedial classes, meeting both the requirement for a potential fix of the problem, and answering the most cogent of objections to the program.

While this article may be read to be slightly biased towards the American education system over the Canadian, the author does an excellent job of pointing out precisely what the problems facing our education system are, and why a system similar to the American should be preferred. Further, their proposed solutions to the issue: earlier and stricter testing, remedial programs at all levels of education, and entry and exit testing for secondary and post-secondary schools, are all feasible, and perfectly reasonable ways to help ensure that the Canadian education system continues doing its job properly.
devonin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-30-2007, 09:33 PM   #2
tayloj7
FFR Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Canada
Posts: 9
Default Re: [Essay] Problems with the Canadian Education System

Coming from the Canadian school system I'd have to agree with you on almost every point. The elementary and secondary school systems are far to focused on pushing as many kids through the system with the highest grades they can give them so that they look good. Of course changing this would be basically impossible seeing as you'd have to deal with the provincial governments and the teachers union... good luck. I like the idea of course segmentation and I think it would work well in the opposite way. This way for those students who may be slightly ahead of the class in a specific subject could work ahead. I found my first year of university was quite a bit harder than highschool, i hadn't really ever needed to try before and i can understand where the low test marks would come from as some of my first test marks were pretty low. For myself i just realised i'd have to put in a bit of extra work, but too many people seem to think if they all just complain in a giant herd it will make the professors cater to them. Well they didn't understand that for most of the professors teaching is just a secondary job to their research and complaining wasn't going to work (i've even heard of parents going in to argue for their children over their marks, i call them children because if their parents are still arguing for them they have clearly not yet become adults). I'm now finding, as my class sizes have dropped that things have gotten quite better, and that the university seems to have done a fairly good job at weeding people out. However, i agree that the university should not have to do this. I think that many of the people who are now going to university are only doing so because they feel that it is what they should do and are not properly informed of other career options, such as college or apprenticeship programs. Helping students make those kinds of choices is the responsibility of the highschools. Well i've kinda lost where i'm going with all this so i'll stop now to gather my thoughts... umm sorry its all in a big unorganized paragraph, I'm a science student not english so i apologize if my writing isn't the best.
tayloj7 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-2-2007, 10:48 PM   #3
remedy1502
remederpin
FFR Veteran
 
remedy1502's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Ontario, Canada
Age: 27
Posts: 4,877
Default Re: [Essay] Problems with the Canadian Education System

I agree with all of these points, but at my school, St. Michael's Choir School, don't know if you've heard of it, is the best school for academics in the TCDSB (Toronto District Catholic School Board) because the teachers actually teach, and are experts in their subjects, we don't have gym teachers teaching math, or english teachers teaching French. And all the teachers give the fair grades. No one receives a grade that they don't deserve. And universities know that, and I don't remember the statistic, but it's something like 90% of graduates from incredible. And I have another story about actually learning at this school. There is a graduate who is tutoring science students in university and he is a business major. Well not really a story, but it's true.
remedy1502 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-6-2007, 08:02 PM   #4
Kamunt
FFR Player
 
Kamunt's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Chicago-ish, U.S.A.
Posts: 371
Send a message via AIM to Kamunt Send a message via MSN to Kamunt Send a message via Yahoo to Kamunt
Default Re: [Essay] Problems with the Canadian Education System

This is coming from a non-Canadian, but if I may ask, is it true that there is free public education in Canada? >_> I'm sorry if that's a stupid question, it's just that I've heard this a lot from various different places and just wanted to find out for sure.
__________________
Professional Dubstep Hater

Last edited by Omeganitros : Today at 01:46 AM. Reason: What the hell were you thinking?
Kamunt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-6-2007, 09:31 PM   #5
devonin
Very Grave Indeed
FFR Simfile AuthorFFR Veteran
 
devonin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Ontario, Canada
Age: 36
Posts: 10,098
Send a message via AIM to devonin Send a message via MSN to devonin
Default Re: [Essay] Problems with the Canadian Education System

In Canada Public Schools are funded by the government, which are in turn funded by Canadian Tax Dollars. So I mean in one sense, no everybody communally pays for public school, but in the sense of "Do you, seperate from normal expenses, also pay for education" no, Canada has free public education. Just like our healthcare. I mean, "Canada has free healthcare" insofar as when you go recieve medical care, you don't pay anything at that time, but since healthcare is funded by taxes, it isn't "free" in the literal sense either.

As an aside, a leftover from the BNA act in the late 1800s, the province of Ontario also has government funded Catholic seperate school, and Quebec the same for Protestants. I imagine it won't be more than 10 or 15 years before that goes away, and all religious-based schools will be private like the majority already are.
devonin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-6-2007, 09:51 PM   #6
Kamunt
FFR Player
 
Kamunt's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Chicago-ish, U.S.A.
Posts: 371
Send a message via AIM to Kamunt Send a message via MSN to Kamunt Send a message via Yahoo to Kamunt
Default Re: [Essay] Problems with the Canadian Education System

Ah, OK, that's what I basically thought. I had assumed the whole taxpayers-thing, but I just wanted to make sure, so thank you for clarifying this. Same with the health care thing, this I had also heard. Whatever BNA stands for, though, that's a very interesting aside, to say the least. ...Ugh, I may be Catholic, but I've heard baaaad things about our Catholic schools, straight from a student that once attended this for 7 years... I can only hope they aren't that lame in Canada, too, but considering the the fact that they are Catholic, that may be asking for too much.
__________________
Professional Dubstep Hater

Last edited by Omeganitros : Today at 01:46 AM. Reason: What the hell were you thinking?
Kamunt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-6-2007, 10:39 PM   #7
devonin
Very Grave Indeed
FFR Simfile AuthorFFR Veteran
 
devonin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Ontario, Canada
Age: 36
Posts: 10,098
Send a message via AIM to devonin Send a message via MSN to devonin
Default Re: [Essay] Problems with the Canadian Education System

BNA act - British North America Act

The BNA Act of 1867 was the act of British Parliament that gave Canada its independance as a soverign nation. We legislated our way into nationhood instead of fighting a revolutionary war.

As for Catholic school, I spent 13 years in the Catholic school system, and from all visible accounts from my non-catholic friends, I got the better education, with better facilities, and a better atmosphere to learn than they did in public schools.
devonin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-6-2007, 10:52 PM   #8
Kamunt
FFR Player
 
Kamunt's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Chicago-ish, U.S.A.
Posts: 371
Send a message via AIM to Kamunt Send a message via MSN to Kamunt Send a message via Yahoo to Kamunt
Default Re: [Essay] Problems with the Canadian Education System

Wow, all 13 years, ey? I'm glad that you got a better education, at least. My friend who got out after 6th grade said that he hated it completely, the way they had all the kids aged 5-14 all sandwiched in together, the early starts, and really, mostly just the atmosphere in general. I don't know, it could just be him, or just our local Catholic school, but he isn't the only one to say that...but in all honesty, I'd bet my wallet on the argument that he got a better education while there. Ah well.
__________________
Professional Dubstep Hater

Last edited by Omeganitros : Today at 01:46 AM. Reason: What the hell were you thinking?
Kamunt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-29-2020, 09:48 AM   #9
Dinglesberry
YOOOOoooo
FFR Veteran
 
Dinglesberry's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 2,549
Default Re: [Essay] Problems with the Canadian Education System

Both of my parents are teachers (in the niagara catholic schoolboard), and the teachers are currently on strike because of random shit, if I'm gonna be honest teachers always complain about everything, striking over increased class sizes and mandatory e-learning, complete boomers who don't want to adapt with the times in my opinion, but hey they get paid anyways for striking so I guess you can't complain.

Catholic schools are certainly better than public schools though, and at least from my experience, I'd say that the number of people who were actually religious was about 1 in 200. I loved the atmosphere of a catholic school to be honest, it was barely religious at all but it had more passionate people teaching and whatnot, I feel. I can't think of a single teacher I had in highschool that I disliked, and a ton of them actually made a big effort to prepare people for university, my english and history teachers for example made us do seminars, debates, take lecture notes etc, rather than just passing out papers and notes.

My opinion as to why the school system is so bad is that it way too much emphasis on "oh the path to success is to go to university and get a degree", when sure this is probably a good path, but it's certainly not for everyone. At the end of the day, a university doesn't care if you are actually prepared and able to get through the program, they get their money if you drop out or not (at least for the semesters you attended), so theres no incentive for them to actually support students or make sure they pass, so it's a situation of it being easy to get in, difficult to finish.

For all my courses the minimum passing grade has always been 60% rather than 50%, but I don't even think this necessarily will fix any issues with how the school system works.

I think the best approach would be for schools to start encouraging paths that aren't strictly education, like going into the trades and whatnot, which for a lot of people would probably better suit their learning styles and goals than going further with academics, but schools want to make money so they force the idea of having to get a degree onto everyone, which I think is the main issue. It's easy to say that the requirements to enter further education should be higher, which is probably the case, but doing that would lose the schools money, because again they don't really care if you pass, just that you enter and pay them lol
Dinglesberry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-29-2020, 09:51 AM   #10
Dinglesberry
YOOOOoooo
FFR Veteran
 
Dinglesberry's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 2,549
Default Re: [Essay] Problems with the Canadian Education System

Some people just aren't that great academically, but aren't dumb people at all, they just have a different type of intelligence, but the current school system makes people like that feel like they're idiots, when it should be encouraging them to take the path they want to. All of the "dumbest" people I remember in highschool are the most successful now, going on to become electricians, plumbers, contractors etc, so it's dumb for schools to make these paths seem like they're the lesser intelligence path to take.
Dinglesberry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-29-2020, 11:59 AM   #11
gold stinger
Signature Extraordinare~~
Simfile JudgeFFR Simfile AuthorD7 Elite KeysmasherFFR Veteran
 
gold stinger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Age: 24
Posts: 5,183
Send a message via Skype™ to gold stinger
Default Re: [Essay] Problems with the Canadian Education System

Let me make a stance on my situation in school in comparison to the essay:

I took all academic courses throughout middle school and high school in Canada. Meaning, since grade 9, through grade 12 when they started offering choice between in-development courses, applied courses, and academic (university-ready) courses, all of my courses, regardless of my performance in them, were all at academic-applied level, including French which is a mandatory credit. My courses from grade 9 to grade 12 happened between 2010-2014, so somewhat recent in terms of schooling.

I had a stronger suit in mathematics over English/writing/reading, but when it came to the calculus, I bowed out. I never properly learned to re-arrange math equations despite 70-80% marks throughout grade 10 to grade 12.

I got through academic English from grade 9 through grade 12 without ever reading a book. Content that required a book, I looked up summarized details online to make my book report. In-class reading content, they more or less had kid to kid reading the book to the rest of the class, and I only ever had to do that once, involving a short story of someone being stranded on an island that ate themselves. I never even learned the notes and things that English teachers mark down when you send in an essay, until much later. No idea what a pilcrow was throughout high school. AMA whatever ya like from me. English was a weird place in high school. I dropped out in grade 12 and got my GED 2 years later, but the short time that I did grade 12 academic English, it was more like Art class than it was English.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by YoshL View Post
butts.



- Tosh 2014




Last edited by gold stinger; 01-29-2020 at 12:03 PM..
gold stinger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-29-2020, 11:34 PM   #12
Andrew WCY
I'm Brother, looool.
FFR Veteran
 
Andrew WCY's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Kwai Chung, Hong Kong
Posts: 125
Default Re: [Essay] Problems with the Canadian Education System

I couldn't comment on Canada's education system, but I could give a perspective on some problems of Hong Kong's.

During secondary school, native students were learning reading comprehension for classical Chinese in addition to the modern Chinese we use every day. Classical Chinese is a subject that requires a rather high level of proficiency in Chinese to understand the meanings behind each word and passage. It makes use of a wide range of vocabulary we don't normally encounter in day-to-day conversations.

The primary school I got placed into was an English school, where teachers put more emphasis on learning English than Chinese. In those days, native students were not given any training in classical Chinese, and Chinese classes only covered some selected readings from the textbook and writing exercises focused on general topics like writing a letter and describing your hobbies. When I was first exposed to classical Chinese in secondary school, I had a lot of trouble learning its fundamentals, and in spite of the teachers being as helpful as they could, I had a hard time catching up with the others. I admit, language has never been my strongest suit, and that probably had an impact on my learning progress of that subject. But without any early training during my primary school years, the learning barrier was quite high, and learning the basics that late into Hong Kong's curriculum would be a tough task for many to handle.

This brings me to one of my opinions regarding our education system: Students might be given insufficient education on subjects during their early stages of learning, which causes a lack of fundamentals and consequently leads to the presence of learning obstacles in later stages. In my view, much of this problem has to do with an absence of teachers giving education on these subjects in primary schools and too little time being given for students to learn them. This is a problem higher levels of education institution shouldn't be solving and instead should be given to lower levels for taking care of early on. If you take classical Chinese, you're expected to have a good foundation in Chinese, preferably having had done basic reading comprehension exercises on classical Chinese paragraphs. Without this kind of training, it's like a fitness coach telling you to prepare for running a marathon when you don't have a good running form and aren't too fit to begin with.

While one can place part of the blame on the parents for not teaching their children and another part of it on the students for refusing to learn by themselves, I believe it is the schools' fault for not educating students well: A school should be responsible for providing a good and welcoming learning environment for its students; teachers should have the responsibility to help and ensure their students have picked up the fundamentals before moving onto harder subjects; and resources (such as computers for accessing Internet resources and books on relevant classroom topics) should be provided so that students can cultivate their interest in subject areas, gain the skills for self-studying, and ultimately learn by themselves. In such an optimistic scenario, parents shouldn't need to put a lot of time on their children to assist them with catching up with the curriculum, and students would have the ability to search for materials to improve their understanding in subjects. And even in the more realistic situation in which many young students don't have the skills yet for self-learning until much later, we shouldn't be expecting parents to take up too much of the role teachers should have. After all, don't parents send their children to school and pay for their tuition with the belief that teachers could help their children learn well without having the parents themselves doing the bulk of the work?

Another subject of hot debate here in Hong Kong is the existence of the Basic Competency Assessment (BCA), which is a test that evaluates grade 3, 6, and 9 students on their English, Chinese and Mathematics skills in their respective grade levels. The BCA does not affect students' grades and the secondary schools they get allocated to, and is merely a way for the Education Bureau and the schools to gauge the performance of students with respect to their education standards. The scores from the assessment are kept secret amongst the teachers and Education Bureau, so the students have no way of knowing how well they did in the test. Many parents complain that the assessment couldn't be done drilling-free (a feature our Secretary of Education promised), tests skills that students couldn't handle at their levels, and is causing their children a lot of unnecessary stress. The BCA is another version of the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) I took, which is essentially the same thing and perhaps with some changes in the testing scope and difficulty of the questions. As I haven't taken the BCA before and only took the TSA, I'll be voicing my opinions on the TSA and how it relates to our education system.

During my studies, we had been given TSA exercises to do, with way more drilling being done during primary school than in secondary school. In primary school, each of us had several sets of TSA exercises being zipped together inside an exercise book cover, and we were periodically tasked with completing them in-class (maybe once every week or so). We eventually finished all of them, and our class teacher handed out another TSA exercise book containing more sets of exercises zipped together. We KO'd that too. After finishing each exercise, the teacher would grade us some days later. They would go through each question and help us understand the mistakes most or several of us made, but one teacher made us stand up if we lost marks in a question (unless the question involves writing an essay) and scolded us for every single mistake we made. None of this happened during secondary school though; we did the exercises very rarely.

The tests don't feel hard for me, and apart from the careless mistakes we made during primary school, all of us had no problem doing the TSA at all. Even though we were told repeatedly that we couldn't make our school 'lose face' by doing poorly in the test during primary school, the training and the actual test itself didn't feel stressful to me. My views on the TSA go against what a lot of parents said about it in the past and what they say about the BCA in the present: The TSA doesn't test students stuff outside of their syllabus; the stress students feel might not be that of the students themselves fearing they can't do the test well, but might be a product of parents and teachers themselves placing too much pressure onto the students; and drilling isn't necessary (at least to the extent of the effort my primary school's teachers did to us), as doing one or two of these exercises should suffice in getting students familiar with the TSA's format. It seems to me the parents are a tad bit too worried about the performance of their children on a test that doesn't affect their chances of admission into secondary schools, and it's the parents' and schools' fault for causing the problem people are complaining about.

TL;DR and conclusion: Hong Kong's primary schools might have problems teaching fundamentals well, and parents and schools place too much stress on students for performing well on proficiency assessments that don't affect their grades.

Feel free to ask me more about this topic and present your opinions on your country's education system. I could give some of my opinions on the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE), the examinations all grade 12 students in the Joint University Programmes Admissions System (JUPAS) need to take to get results that determine whether they could go into university or not.
__________________

Last edited by Andrew WCY; 01-30-2020 at 08:29 AM.. Reason: Writing something this long and then checking for grammatical mistakes and points I've forgotten to cover is a chore.
Andrew WCY is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:59 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.1
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright FlashFlashRevolution