Private School Education

Posted: June 23, 2014 in Education

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*The picture above is a private high school in Newmarket, Ontario (Canada) – Pickering College*

I grew up in Newmarket, Ontario (Canada), which harbours only one private high school by the name of Pickering College. I had always passed the large, picture-esque campus and even played soccer on their field, but never actually knew what the campus was until I was about 15. When I was 16, I had met someone who attended that school and he was “going to be a doctor” and now I think he is one…

I couldn’t fathom how parents would choose to pay for their child’s education when education in Ontario is essentially free. Has anyone ever offered you something for free and you offered to pay for it instead? Doubtful. THEN, when I heard how much tuition at his school was, I was again speechless and immediately asked myself: What do his parents do for a living?
But I asked my friend the most important question of all: What is the difference between your school and mine? (I attended a Catholic high school).

If you’re not already familiar, as a teacher in Ontario, you have the option to teach for a school board (Catholic or public) or a private school (Christian, Montessori, IB, etc…). The school boards will hire you and then you start the gruelling process of becoming a full-time teacher. Essentially, you are hired as a supply teacher, then as a “long term occasional” teacher, and then finally (if you’re lucky) as a full-time educator. The aforementioned, of course, can have you traveling from one school to another until you can find a permanent position. Private schools are different. The individual school is in charge of their own hiring process and will fill the necessary spots at their school.

I teach at a private-Christian high school.

So, what is the difference?

The notions that often accompany private schools are that “teachers care” and “the work is more challenging.” These are outdated suggestions. The fact of the matter is that most teachers care no matter where you send your child and the work is as challenging as the teachers make it.

It all comes down to motivation. The fact of the matter is that it’s June – the end of the school year and I am already in September-mode thinking of ways to improve my courses, increase my own personal knowledge, and implement new strategies and concepts for English lit. Motivation? I want to be better each year and earn my spot on my faculty. In the private system, complacency is a sure way out the door.

Yes I want to help students because they are the future and blah blah blah, but let’s be real about this: ensuring my own survival (getting a little dramatic here) benefits my students in every possible way. Every year I am better. Every year the teaching is fun because I’ve made new goals for myself. The bar, each year, is effectively raised – but not only for myself, but for my students.

The unfortunate reality, however, is that not all private schools are great, not everyone can afford a private school education, and a private school education does not guarantee success.

Like I said, you can find great teachers in and out of the school board system, but in the school board, complacency is present and I’ve seen snapshots of it.

Private Education:

Smaller class sizes? Sure.

Better resources and facilities? Probably.

Closer communication with teachers? Yep.

Teachers stepping up their game year after year for the benefit of your child? Yes.


Is that worth the tuition cost?

 

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