So What is the Answer?
On the rare occasion that I read my local newspaper, The Windsor Star, my reflections are usually more along the lines of “whatever happened to basic journalistic principals like reporting the facts, or even both sides of a story?”. My desperate attempts to ignore this publication are often thwarted by my ever-friendly mother-in-law, who loves to cut out any education related piece for me to read.
The article she clipped for me last week was titled “Chronic Unemployment Likely Education Related“. The article was based on a report by the Canadian Council on Learning. The report suggests that “the education system that Canada has is going to lead us to produce more and more people who are chronically unemployable”. It goes on to note that Canada is the only country in the world without a federal Ministry for Education, and that there are no measurable national goals, benchmarks or assessments of acheivement, and that this will contribute significantly to the potential unemployment problem.
Not once is there a mention of technology in this article. Many of the findings and conclusions are things educators have known for a long time (really, there is not enough funding in early years? Wow, what a discovery!). What the article fails to address at all is that the world into which these students will seek employment is one where the ability to manipulate technology and collaborate with peers will trump any test score.
To a certain degree the report is right – status quo will lead us to a chronic unemployment problem as global markets develop. My contention is that testing and a federal Ministry of Education, even increased funding come to that, will not solve this issue. I did a scan of the Ontario Language curriculum for grade 1 to 8 and found that the word ‘technology’ does not appear in any expectation. ‘Computer’ appears 9 times only. So is it a lack of funding, goals and national testing which is going to hold our students back, or the fact that the skills they need to compete in this global market have yet to find their way into our curriculum?