Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.
Canadian Education Gets a Failing Grade.
Current Education Standards Fails our Children, our Economy and puts our Reputation in the North American school of Dumb and Dumber
Currently read an article in the Globe and Mail by David Helfand, heading of “Liberal arts is the future of work, so why is Canada pushing ‘job-ready’ skills?” Now this was published May 12 2014 so I am a bit behind in my reading and to blog about this but the matter is still current and still in need of addressing. There are a few points made that I feel he is absolutely correct and a few of my own I’d like to share with you to help make a change as Canada is getting a failing grade in not only elementary and high school but in all post-secondary education. Mr. Helfand references a conference given by The Conference Board of Canada, I could not attend so I will have to take his word for it of what was discussed. Considering he is the President of Quest University I feel I can trust his word on the topic. In the CBOC’s words they describe themselves as “We are dedicated to building a better future for Canadians by making our economy and society more dynamic and competitive.” (About CBOC link here) I understand then that this is where the powers that be in education can get their information from on the provinces and countries education planning for our current and future students. As always I encourage people to look and see for themselves to find out the truth, not just take mine or any ones word for things. In their education and learning featured products is their list of what is needed in the workforce from you as an employee. “Employability Skills” It states “The skills you need to enter, stay in, and progress in the world of work—whether you work on your own or as a part of a team. These skills can also be applied and used beyond the workplace in a range of daily activities.” Also read the “Innovation Skills Profile 2.0”, “The skills you need to contribute to an organization’s innovation performance—to produce new and improved strategies, capabilities, products, process, and services”, “Commercialization Skills Profile” “The skills, attitudes, and behaviours you need to bring a new or improved product, process, or service to market and to maximize its value”, and then you get to take a general aptitude test. “General Innovation Skills Aptitude Test 2.0”
All that reading lead me to thinking what is Canada doing about ensuring our youth of now and tomorrow are getting these basic needed skills to earn income and create a better stronger Canada? What can we do as parents and students to make sure we get these basic needed skills? In my search to find the answer to this question I came across this site called CMEC and they stated, “Canada has 4 universities in the top 100 of the Shanghai World University Rankings (2014).” Wow, that sounds wonderful right? Canada in the top 100 of the world’s best universities! Oh wait just a second, in the top how many? Ok so let’s see how close to the top we are and who the heck is beating us out? So I go over to the site of Academic Ranking of World Universities 2014 and lets have a look at exactly were Canada stands. Ok well looking at it Canada comes in at #24 in the world rankings at University of Toronto, and that university is #1 in the national ranking. Ok that is not too bad, we are not in #1 of the world so why not? Who beat us and why? Let’s have a look, the USA took top #1 through #4 in the world. Then U.K. took #5 but then look, the USA took # 6 through #18 (tied for #9 with U.K.) Canada took # 24 and not again until #37 then #67 then #90. I don’t know about you but I would not be bragging that we are in the top 100 with those scores. The USA is kicking butt, what is wrong with Canada? We are not even in the top 10%, not even the top 20%, if this was my test score in school I would be horrified of my grade, how could I score so low? We are a developed country so why are we so low in the top 100? We can do better than this Canada Education deities! How can we do better you ask? Liberal arts education teaches students to think outside the box and solve tough problems. Our country is pushing out people who are not equipped with the knowledge to boost our economy, if you want a great education you may soon need to study in a far off land. USA has proven to be consistent in the top 18 of the top 20. Now that is a great score! Only beat out by 2. How can that be? We are a great country with lots of opportunities and growth? Well that is exactly the problem, Education deities are more concerned with the short term solution that makes the provinces more money, not the long term profit that can be achieved by attaining a liberal arts education and with this education create more stable, efficient long term employment that is flexible with a changing economy.
What about creating better workers because they love their work? What about creating better quality of life because people love going to work and can balance home life, they are not stressed out from work and create a tense home life and divorce due to the stress of an unhappy work life. Job satisfaction and passion in our work is not even a thought in those education goals of the provinces education planning decisions. Ever wonder why we don’t have a Plato or Voltaire or Socrates today? That would be because fewer people are learning to think for themselves, they are learning only one skill and not how to think for themselves only to follow orders. I mean really think for themselves, not just think about if you want cow milk or almond milk I am talking about think about where you want your life to be in 10 years and how to achieve that? Think about how your thoughts on the global scale could change the way the world does something or even invent something. How about what are your thoughts on how to make the job you do right now more efficient and be able to show how your thoughts will work in creating a better company? Being able to fill the positions that make money for the province is a narrow minded view of how to fill the need itself. Just forcing individuals to take a trade and not what they truly love is criminal, it sets them up for a life of unfulfilling employment, sure it pays the bills but how happy are you to go to work day in and out in a field you may not have chosen for yourself? The education throughout elementary then on into high school is all geared in one direction, there is not a lot of variety being taught in the school. Someone who would have been an entrepreneur of a multibillion dollar industry is actually being steered to be a plumber or carpenter. What about the person who never realized a passion and love for graphical design because they were steered towards a career as Derrickhands? Job satisfaction must be a factor in the employment field choices for the rest of your life. Studies showed that people will change careers a minimum of 4 times in their lifetime, this tells me that people are not happy with the job they went into, they are not happy with benefits, environment, feeling valued, or even the job itself is unfulfilling to them.
So what is a Liberal arts education and how is this supposed to better my life in all areas? That is easy to explain I feel since a liberal arts education is something we already crave. In history women who were expected to be no more than a house wife were educated in a form of liberal arts, studies history, art, sciences, and more simply to become a better wife and mother. Let’s say you are the husband of that time and you marry a woman with this education you are able to carry on a conversation with someone, a better relationship right there to start, she then is able to better raise intelligent children, she is better able to carry on a professional conversation and poise during business functions and house guests are entertained more easily all because of the education she received. Think of the movie Mona Lisa Smiles, this is a perfect example of the education that these women were given just to be a house wife. This sounds to some rather sexist but really think about it, do you want to come home and have a conversation with a spouse that can only share opinions on the microwave dinner they just ate, or would you like an intellectual conversation that stimulates and invigorates you bringing you closer together as a couple and family? A spouse that can raise your children to be intelligent and not the neighborhood idiots? So what is a Liberal arts degree? (Click here for the explanation of what is a Liberal Arts Education?)
What basic skills are needed in all areas of the work force and future workforce? They wanted employees prepared for the 21st century knowledge economy in which communication, collaboration, and creativity are the most valuable commodities. Well according to the article by David Helfand the companies are not finding these qualities and I completely understand. I see the kids in school and they really are not showing these skills, heck they are not even showing the desire to pursue secondary education at all, just graduate and make some money. Don’t really care where they work they just want to graduate and make money, some only go to grade 10 or 11 and then go to work not even getting the diploma. Now I do not advocate the need for a diploma, as long as you are getting an education that is post-secondary worthy. Home school in fact has the option to not take the diploma of a provincial plan and that is wonderful if and only if the student is being educated and educated beyond the grade 10 aspects. I feel the provincial guides obviously are lacking, some home schoolers are getting the best education and moving on to post-secondary opportunities. Liberal arts education was the foundation of home school for many, many years, the family always learned at home then moved on to a career path being educated outside the home as an apprentice or formal post-secondary schools. I removed my daughter from the provincial education system because of the way the education was going, I figured I could do a better job than they could and guess what? I did a better job than them, I have no formal teaching degree or course of any such thing but the will and drive to educate my child to succeed in the future. Her passion for education has grown since turning to home school and a liberal arts education in our home. She has developed a love for books, writing, thinking, imagination and the desire to see what else is out there. If we had not done this switch she would have been like she was, stuck in a system that did nothing with desire, did not even encourage desire in learning. There is no reward for hard work, work hard you pass the course, you work hardly at all and you will pass the course. The no fail rule does not reward hard work and does not teach the consequence that slack work gets you nothing in life. She had to work hard and the harder she worked the more she enjoyed what she was learning, then one day she found a subject that she absolutely fell in love with. She would not have found this in a brick and mortar school since they only teach a limited amount of topics that are geared towards trades. The brick and mortar school does not allow for a student to expand in a topic that sparks passion and desire, it’s just read the paragraph on the topic and next on to trades! With the liberal education we started at home gave her the lessons from the people of the past, she could into the past to learn about the future and understand the present. Of course home schooling is not for everyone, first off if you want a great home school education it is a lot of hard work, but a liberal arts education is for everyone and will benefit everyone and future companies. I strongly feel that the liberal arts education should start in grade school and continue on throughout the entire life, and it will, once you start it seems like a passion that you crave to learn more of. Creativity is tossed out the window in brick and mortar schools since art history and art class in general are being cut, the music classes are cut, the drama, dance, and all extra arts classes are cut. Physical education is cut back, the more the school cuts these imagination developing classes the more they hurt the students ability to think and collaborate. Communication you can forget that, the lessons in school teach how to back talk and wine to get your way, not problem solve, no lessons in listening and understanding, this you would learn from people in the past teachings, and the ability to work with other cultures. This is a really big one, working with other cultures is a definite need, the knowledge of the other cultures and belief systems would drastically increase the ability to work effectively not only in a hometown jobs but even an international position. How many high school students can you say will be able to walk into a room filled with foreign people strong in their beliefs, and create a solution to the current issues regarding cultural differences? Communication, collaboration, imagination is vital to the future generations to build a strong, prosperous Canada.
From grade school to high school to college, university, trades schools. The powers that be in the education department have changed the education so much that the youth don’t have a chance. I remember growing up reading book that kids don’t even hear about anymore, who is Plato, Socrates, and what is a Voltaire I am told. These children do not learn the value of hard work, and the system is rather ridiculous with the coddling of hold your hand and no fail rule. There is no more fail a grade even if you are not trying to succeed you still pass. How do you learn the value of hard work if you are not rewarded for it? There is no real honour system as those who do try very hard are still moved up with those who barely make it and really should have failed that grade! The education I received was a dummied down liberal art education. My older siblings had a better education than I because the education system kept getting messed around even more when I was in elementary school.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
The rest of the world is recognizing the value in a liberal arts education yet again North America is behind. We are supposed to be leaders in the world but we are smucks that bend for the most short term fast money solution, if only our leaders could open their eyes and see that the world is changing and so had they. I will not send my child to a university that is lacking in the education, it has to benefit my daughter for years to come, not just get her a job. The more people educate themselves they will see that the liberal arts education is a better way of being taught and they will be putting their money in schools outside the country to get it. I will gladly pay for her to go to another country for the best liberal arts education but would have loved to be able to have had her stay in our country for this education. But looking at Canada’s scores it looks like USA or UK is the choice for an education in a school that sees the value in the education itself. I also checked and those top 20 schools have indeed liberal arts opportunities and joints with other schools to help students achieve this goal. Students who are looking for a great education that will serve them years to come, that will help them adapt, that will help them be the best in their field, the go to person for ideas and inspiration then the liberal arts is the avenue to take. Besides in the animated movie Sword in the Stone by Disney, Merlin states many times the importance of education.
Merlin – “now develop your brain, knowledge, wisdom, there’s the real power, higher learning, that’s the thing.”
Merlin – “How do you ever expect to amount to anything without an education I’d like to know?”
Merlin – “Use your head, an education lad”
Author – “what good would that do?”
Merlin – “Get it first and who knows, are you willing to try?”