So, the BC Government just released a grocery list of Curriculum amendments. After last years’ BCEdPlan there remains very little consensus. About direction. Consultation was superficial and clouded by election campaign and a severed teacher’s negotiation. Education for a decade since contracts were torn up and policy, designed around Fraser Institute reports, has been in turmoil. Year2000 Royal Commission long forgotten. Despite this, BC public education has excelled. Our children have been served pretty well compared with other global jurisdiction. Spectacular special needs integration, economic crash, teacher relations upheaval and some major social change have all been adapted into schooling as best could be expected.
Perhaps the only trend now I’m sensing is a big disconnect between the stakeholders. Our students don’t follow all the hoopla and are essentially not informed or asked. Perhaps children shouldn’t be consulted either? They are children after all. Professionals and parents should be leading, guiding, parenting- the village should be raising them. Perhaps we have already gone too far already. Helicopter parenting and an enabling school system that is creating a generation of very anxious and neurotic youth. ( medical experts claim so) Some say our children are spoiled, other say they are neglected. I see both every day. I also see beauty and wonderful gifted youth.
Government and parents have a paradoxical love hate relationship. School boards and the Ministry try hard to make parents happy with policy tweaks yet major erosion of services and funding has caused grievances. I say funding because while budgets are large the 21stC has also seen private school underwritten with substantial monies and this has impacted the distribution of resources. A squeeze if you like. The recent CUPE contract to point. Costs have to come from current district budgets. Something in public school service to kids has to give. Duh.
The teacher stakeholder group is indifferent, frustrated if not disheartened. After decades if teaching, I have never seen teachers work so hard and tackle so many variables inside and outside the classroom but my real thesis today isn’t the hardships but the uniqueness of our plight. Teaching isn’t about curriculum or pedagogy or new prescriptive methods discovered in fain land or Louisiana( BC educators are already some of the most skilled and innovative already) it’s about relating to students as people.
I had a young woman drop by our KSS learning commons today and ask for Mr. Smith. Our loyal on the job library assistant Mrs Kole naturally directed her so she could find me. As a hundred times a day, I expected some kind of inquiry about books or technology or whatever… Today was different. Today I was reminded about why teachers and direct relationship building is vital. Connected learning and blended learning is fine but education is greater than the sum of its technical pedagogical parts.
The young lady wanted to know about a few of my acrylic paintings I had recently displayed in the library. On a whim and encouragement from some art students I hung my own art projects in the library. She asked, “someone said you have paintings here, can I see them?” I felt honored if a little embarrassed. I’m not used to that kind of personal inquiry but we had a delightful talk about art, personal motivation and why we try new things.
You see I just started painting this spring because some grade 12 kids coaxed me. I was a quasi fine arts patron at KSS setting up a gallery in the library and trying to help out whenever I could, . visiting shows etc. This delightfully mature girl was on a mission of inquiry. She was seeking a spark of interest. She was reaching out for the human experience. Taking risk. Building personal relationships of exploration and trust such as this, big or small, are priceless investments in our youth. No curriculum or trendy political motivation or school of thought will change that. We need to invest in our people- in our children, not shiny new things. Years ago I liked the expression Hi-Touch over Hi-Tech. I think it still applies more than ever.