As a teacher in North America, I am sometimes saddened by how inefficient the educational system can be. I love teaching; I believe it is my calling. I come to work each day happy to see my students and to open their minds to new ideas. Yet my hands are tied. I must follow a strict curriculum that check marks what students must learn by the end of the semester. I do believe that a guide is a necessity to makes sure students are learning the essential concepts for their grade. But is the system using the minds of these students to the fullest? Not in the least.
I grew up with a European educational system. We were always challenged and expected to succeed and we worked HARD. Classes were from 8 to 4 and if you were in grades 10-11 there were after school lessons for the O Levels, A levels (British) AP exams and SATs (American). Yes, we were told to take all the exams that were available for university entrance even though we were not even going to that country. It prepared us for everything academically. My grade 12 textbook for Math and Physics were University textbooks. After having completed high school and all those exams, I was exempt from taking first year calculus at university and all the first year courses were just repeats of my grade 12 year. Here I was relaxing and enjoying first year while most students from North American high schools were struggling. It is by no fault of their own.
Becoming a teacher here opened my eyes to the curriculum. I teach Math, Science and Business. Let me just talk about the Math curriculum. What students are being taught in grade 10 here, I was being taught in grades 7 and 8. That is a big difference. My questions is why have we lowered the standards? Why does the education system think that students are not capable of higher levels of learning? They are more than capable of it. They have the capacity to do so much more but we have lowered the levels of learning that they have no reason so exceed those expectations. They go into university unprepared and with a much lower level of education that those of their foreign counterparts.
I love my students and I hate that they are not being challenged enough. It is not just in high school. I have a child in 2nd grade and the math they are being taught is compared to SK and Gr.1 overseas. How can we expect our children to compete in a global society when they are being provided a lower standard of education? This does not mean that any child in this system is set up for failure; but they sure do need to put in a lot more work in order to compete.
Do not even get me started on the whole “no zeros” policy here. The policy that a teacher is obliged to accept any work that was assigned during a semester up to the last day of school and expect to mark it and include it in the report; hence no zero unless they submit nothing by the end. What is even the purpose of the due date? How does this teach them any form of responsibility? How inefficient is that?! Can you imagine going to your boss and telling them “Hey, you know that report you wanted today? Ya, I don’t have it so I will just give it to you next month, okay?” Your rear would be out the door so fast, yet we teach the kids that this is okay for most of their life. Can you sense my frustration? I do not want to punish students but I do want to teach them that life is full of responsibilities and there are consequences to not following through.