Deep into the Rabbit Hole

Posted: January 2, 2014 in Education, Humanity

Students, parents, guardians, teachers, admin…we’ve all heard the same scary news: The state of education in Ontario is suffering. University degrees no longer secure graduates with a job, the arts are being cut, and the idea of “success” isn’t changing. Even my friends in fields not having to do with education (specifically, teaching) know that “things are changing” and not for the better. I’ll admit to this: When students are scared by the media telling them that there are no jobs, I’m not too sure what that really means. Are we having difficulty procuring cashier jobs at McDonald’s or is it just that all of the CEO positions are taken? The fact of the matter is that graduates want to be paid what they feel they are worth, so having to work at the local Shoppers or Tim Horton’s seems ridiculous for a recent University graduate. Let me tell you, it’s not. I worked at a night club and Sportchek before I was hired into my first teaching job and even THEN, I taught full time at an elementary school that paid next to nothing. I went in everyday simply because it was a teaching job and it got my “foot in the door.” The downside is this: graduates are living at home longer (sometimes into their late 20’s) simply because of the lack of jobs, but jobs that, specifically, allow one to move out and live comfortably.

I know this much – there are very few teaching jobs. I think we can still blame the lack of retiring teachers for that one and I’m not afraid to say it (type it). Not to mention that Ontario makes it next-to-impossible for new and energized teachers to fill a position. These new and energized teachers must put their time in supply teaching and covering maternity leaves while the old and out-of-touch teachers (who, mostly, couldn’t care less about connecting with the students of today) get to teach and collect that pay check. This, however, will end soon. I am personally witnessing a influx of newer and younger and fresher teachers occupying spaces in schools – it’s nice to see. Sidenote: I work in the private system where the best are hired and continue to strive to be the best to keep their position – it’s competitive and I like that.

Canada, as a whole, was third in sciences, mathematics, and reading (as of 2010) – that’s pretty good. I’ve heard, though, that many elementary schools (and maybe high schools too) are trying to cut the arts (music, drama, art, dance), which are ever-so-important to the creativity and curiosity of a young and developing student. I believe that all students want to learn – they really do. But, as I’ve argued before, when too much thinking is involved, the drive to learn is curbed (pun intended). My argument is that the arts allow students to, of course, be creative and expressive (blah blah blah), but it also makes students stop, think, create, pause, think, create, alter, and so on. It teaches patience and it helps with motivation.

The last point is that the idea of success hasn’t changed for years…maybe decades, and that is that success equates to wealth. University students don’t want to think, they just want to the piece of paper for the job and the job for the wealth. I can’t entirely blame them. We are so deep into the rabbit hole of education that it’s tough to change both mindset and the process by which education is taught. My advice: though the hard skills are important (reading, writing, etc…), the soft skills will set you apart – ORGANIZATION, RISK-TAKING, CREATIVITY, AND DECISION-MAKING. I’m sorry to say, but you’re not just competing with your neighbour anymore, you’re competing with everyone around the world.

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