Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Quebec education

Yesterday I posted about how Maine educators seem to have their priorities straight. I live in the province of Quebec. I am happy to say that we do not have the same kind of high stakes testing. Many teachers would argue that we have too much testing, but we have a different kind of testing. What is being created are "Learning and Evaluation Situations" These exams include collaborative work and research. What they don't include are multiple choice questions. Then what is the problem? To do this kind of exam takes time. Teachers resent the two weeks (an hour a day) it takes to administer the exam. I envy the discussion Bob Sprankle described in his podcast of the Maine training for the laptop program. Here people are using the changes to curriculum as something to boycott for leverage in contract talks. The teacher contracts have now been settled, but the years of anger have caused many teachers to have negative attitudes towards what I feel is an amazing program. You can read about it here (lots of jargon - but the underlying aims are sound and exciting).

I see a lot of resistance to change. Bob talked about teachers going in to teaching because they like to learn. I have met many teachers like that. But I have also met many who just want to continue teaching the way they were taught. However, until society really values teachers and truly sees teaching as a profession with specific skills, some teachers will not value teaching either.

We have a teacher shortage coming up here. Our government has proposed as a solution - let students who are in their last year of teacher training go into the classrooms and finish their degrees at night. Or have people with degrees in a particular subject area (but no teacher training) go into the high schools to teach. What does this say about teaching? Is what we learn at university worthless? Perhaps if salaries were better the profession would attract more people who would like to teach, but need to earn more.

This is a bit of a rant. But I get discouraged and understand when others talk of their frustration in trying to convince others that the world has changed. But tomorrow is another day. Change is inevitable - it just may come more slowly than some of us want.

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