Update: Just ran across this on Facebook, and how eloquent it is!
In various places in the mainstream media, there are articles along these lines: Teachers and government are both wrong to hold my education hostage.
From the Globe:
With the cancellation of summer school and distance education offerings, student Cole Poirier says he’s felt as though students have been “held hostage” as negotiators from both sides have claimed that they are representing the best interest of students.
“I don’t think it’s right to suspend our education for a labour dispute,” said Mr. Poirer, a student at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School in the southern end of Vancouver.
This statement speaks to the kind of education being promoted generally in North America, that is to say, job training, and demonstrates something of a lack of perspective on what it means to be educated. When students (and parents) insist that they are being short changed, they need to look at the potential outcomes of the conflict at hand.
If the teachers win in labour negotiations (an unlikely prospect) as they already have twice in court, students will be in smaller classes with staffing made available for students with special needs (these needs carry on right through secondary school: most disabilities can’t be fixed). This does not mean that the education system will be all fixed, but it ensures that there will be a functioning public education system, a framework on which to build some form of education that will extend the notion beyond job training and general grooming for the workforce and allow for analysis to be part of the curriculum so that we won’t be stuck in the same kind of closed loop that brought us to this untenable situation.
If the current provincial government gets its way, either through labour “negotiations” or through a stunning legal reversal (that would essentially void the value of any contract), the school system would continue to be starved for the resources it needs to function until there would only be the skeleton childcare and warehousing service, and even this might be turned over to the private sector. Meanwhile, those who could afford it, along with the few poverty cases that showed themselves worthy of scholarship assistance, would funnel into the private school system, which, oddly enough, is pretty generously subsidized by the province, i.e., you help pay for the fancy campuses, the uniforms and the IB programs.
The net result of Mr. Poirier getting his education at the expense of the BCTF would be to effectively cheat future students out of the whole of their education, not just the part of a year or, Clark forbid, the whole year. I wonder if he and his ilk are willing to consciously shoulder the responsibility for that prospect.
Ultimately, the responsibility for getting educated rests with the individual. Current curriculum is laced with pap and limited perspective. A lot of it is aimed at extinguishing creative impulse and dissent and on imposing restrictions as it sorts out the young folks who aren’t appropriate fodder for the workaday world. It is incumbent on learners to recognize this and to ensure that they accomplish those parts of the curriculum they need to find their niche in society, but to never stop at that point and wander off into the maze of consumerism and social myth that bombards them from all quarters. Learners have many potential partners,parents, peers, the community and, yes, teachers. The remarkable thing about many young people who choose to be educated is that they find the peers, relatives, community leaders and teachers who have something to offer and take from those people what they need to move in the right direction. Some of this may not come from agreeing with what someone says, but from the sense that they’ve been misled and from refusing to accept blindly what issues from the mouths of the anointed. It isn’t the easy path, but a dedicated learner needs to revisit and question whatever comes before him and to constantly reformulate and resynthesize the body of knowledge and ideas that he has accumulated.
It would be wonderful to have a public school system that was a knowledgeable and supportive partner in this undertaking, but it won’t happen with the current governing régime, nor with people whose concern for education ends with their own education and with the loss of the current academic session.