Saturday Morning Coffee

International Affairs Specialist by day, Blogger Enthusiast by night. This is a sneak peek into my world that should be enjoyed with ample time and a good and very strong cup of java.

The Educational Revolution

From as long as I can remember, education has always been highly regarded in my family. My sister is a teacher and it’s been the family business for the last half-century to promptly and safely deliver students from their door to the school’s, twice a day.  And although, I’m not directly involved in the educational system, I’ve spent more time there than anyone else I know :S and support education, in all forms.

“Do the best you can and if it’s the best you can do, then you know you’ve done all you can,” echoes in the back of my head when a math problem gets too daunting or a language is just too complicated. Some would give up, but for me, this phrase just reminds me to just take a break and come back to it.

That’s why I found it so interesting to read this morning of a school bus in Arizona that is connected to Wi-Fi! I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I’m exuberant that kids are able to extend the school hours by working on their laptop from the back of a bus; doing homework, communicating with teachers, which the bus driver reports as being the cause of the decreased level of noise and rowdy behaviour (I guess, that’s one up on the safety scale?)

But on the other hand, do you really want your kids to be so engaged with their laptops, that they stop being kids? Everyone always complains of the one callous-fingered suit in the room who has 3 Blackberries and can’t carry on a conversation – is this the future for those kids who are constantly connected?

It’s a technological paradox and, judging by the ambivalent tone of the article, one that is a success. One that could potentially flow to other buses, school districts and states. I’m wondering if this is the case, how it will impact the kids who don’t have their own personal computers? How it would affect the affluent vs poor neighbourhood academic performance? Or is Wi-Fi in the buses just another reason to move to an area with good educational facilities?

Granted Canada is not the US educational system. So it goes, that all educational facilities in all provinces have proportionally equal budgets and with standardized ciriculums, but often the good teachers transfer out of rural areas that are dotted with broken homes and abusive families who don’t reinforce teacher’s lessons or behavioural concerns.

The Ontario government (last of all provinces) this coming year is implementing an all-day Kindergarten in various neighbourhoods, many of them low-income areas. The motives for it, allows parents to save on day-care funds – stands to reason that these are the areas that could really use some help and  Premier Dalton McGuinty also explains his rationale to the CTV that,

“[e]xpanding junior and senior kindergarten will improve learning skills for the 250,000 four- and five-year-old students across the province…[Kids] perform better when it comes to their math and language skills, and they are also more proficient throughout their school years,” he said of early childhood education. All that starts in the earliest years, and that’s why we are so enthusiastic and excited about moving forward with full-day learning.”

It’s a phenomenal intiative that should have been implemented long ago. And, as my sister points out, the research, tests and evaluation of the kids who have the full-day programs will be compared ‘like crazy,’ to those that don’t have it.  I hope that those results will allow it to be extended to all schools.

I don’t like inequality anywhere and shudder to think that either Wi-Fi in buses or all-day daycare for some and not others may influence their opportunity at a better education, instill greater perseverance or empower a child’s will to succeed.  At this point, baby-steps are what we’ve got to work with and if it has to be baby-steps toward progress rather than nothing, then I’m satisfied.

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This entry was posted on 12/02/2010 by in Books, Canada, Education, electronics, Ethics, policy, Social Media, technology.

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