Teachers and Teaching
by Kim Krenz
I don’t know about you, but I am saddened by the current atmosphere in the secondary school teaching profession in Ontario.
Teachers, the good ones, are among the most important people in our society. How many of us can remember a teacher who came to represent a major influence for good? Their influence stays with us for life. We sometimes remember them with an affection amounting almost to hero worship.
I remember one such teacher in my life who became an idol to the students in our school. Those of us that are still alive remember her with undiminished affection and respect.
She was a product of the Boston Teachers College. Her name was Alice F. Moore. To us, of course, she was always Miss Moore. She became the principal of our school, so that her influence spread to every grade, including high school.
Her home room was Grades 5 and 6, and students of that grade were the elite of the school. In any playground game it was “fifth and six against the rest.” Those whose lives she touched have for years supported a scholarship in her name in the Faculty of Education of Stanford University in California.
I think that anyone reading this will be able to remember a teacher who was a guiding influence in life. I feel sorry for those who cannot; and, since teachers can be such an important part of anyone’s life, there is a special feeling of tragedy about the current atmosphere of secondary school teaching in Ontario.
I have never taught school in the public system, so must speak with only second hand information, but it seems to me that the current antagonism between the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation and the Ontario Board of Education stems from the basic fact that modern education is becoming ever more expensive, and teachers’ salaries are a major part of that expense.
It seems to me that what is looming ahead is the fact that we will not be able to go on with the current system, involving huge investments in buildings and equipment and thousands of teachers, and continue to support teachers in the manner to which they feel entitled.
Bill 115 (2012) and similar legislation aimed at reining in some of the expense of teaching appears to be effective only in generating discord and resentment between teachers and the provincial government.
Looming over all of this is the Internet, which is changing, or has changed, the way we do everything. Sooner or later, it is going to change the way we educate our children. It already is being used at the university level where universities, following the lead of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are putting their entire curriculum on the Internet, where it is available, free, for anyone who wants to learn.
It is intriguing to speculate how this might be applied to lower grades. Teachers will, of course, be needed. Young children need concerned human guidance. But, as TV Ontario is showing the way, things can be taught in attractive ways that no teacher could provide.
In such circumstances the teacher becomes a mature companion, explaining, facilitating and helping, often sharing with the student the learning experience! The core material can be sent anywhere, doing away with the necessity of busing children to large centres of education. How nice it would be to return to the small, local schools, accessible on foot by all but the youngest children!
I may be dreaming, but it is not an impossible dream. It is something to be kept in mind by boards of education, which it seems to me are often mired in stale curricula of doubtful future value. We shall see.
Copyright 2010 Lakefield Herald Ltd.
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