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1947 - Back in the Day


When I started school in 1947, in a single room school house, my journey began in education which has never ended even after 67 years. In those days, we didn’t say “back in the day.” There was the Ontario curriculum which had been written back in the 1930’s and included agriculture. That was easy for me, growing up in rural Ontario but it was difficult for the ‘city kids’ who didn’t know a Holstein from an Angus nor even that they were breeds of cattle (don’t say cows).

It was expected however that upon graduation from Grade 8, all students would know how to read, write (not just print) and do basic arithmetic which included adding, subtraction, multiplying (must know the times-tables) and division. All of this Math was, of course, done without a calculator!

Ah the good old days. But not everyone could do all that the curriculum said they could; some children failed and some, more than once. They eventually left school and some that I knew got jobs and worked hard all their lives, but others did not.

Our teachers worked long hours and helped as much as they could, but with 8 grades in one room or 20 years later with one grade with 35 to 40 students in each room, not everyone was reached, not everyone was helped and not everyone succeeded.

The curriculum, the schools and the teachers have changed. Educators at every level are far more aware of the varied needs of each child; programs and systems are designed to meet those needs. Perfect? No, but it is improved and improving. Yet more help must be available so that every child can succeed to their full potential.

Guest Blogger of the Week : Don Bagshaw BA, MEd

Updating our Concept of What Constitutes the Richness of Human Capacity

We need to update our concept of what constitutes the richness of human capacity.

Before the 19th century there really wasn’t a public education system. It wasn’t until the industrial revolution began in earnest did the concept of education as we know it today exist. Today as it was in the 19th century, our education system is based on the idea of academic ability. This idea of academic ability came into being to meet the needs of industrialization. At the top of the hierarchy of subjects are those most useful for work… math, science (today), languages. Towards the bottom are the arts. Why is this?

For most of our educational history, students have been steered away from subjects that they where not likely to get a job at. Academic ability dominated our view of intelligence where essentially the education system is a protracted university/college entrance process. Once you emerged from university or whatever beverage induced fog that constituted 4 years of modern day education, the idea was that you were now ready to assist the modern industrialized society with your well honed skills.

This concept worked for well over a 100 years. However, this looks less and less likely to be the only choice for today and going forward into the future. Thousands of grads are not only finding it a tremendous challenge to find work, but they are finding that by following the standard line of “get a degree and get a job” is either not working or not working for them. Our view of what constitutes intelligence is going to have to change — and will need to continue to do so. According to UNESCO, over the next 30 years, more people worldwide will graduate from school than since the beginning of history!

To further illustrate this, today where a Bachelor of Arts used to be enough, a Masters of Education is required. The same is true for positions where a Masters was sufficient and a Doctorate is now required. This concept of academic inflation illustrates the basic tenant of our academic ability dominated view of intelligence. We are going to need to re-think our view of what intelligence is — or continue down a path where individuals will be required to have multiple doctorates in order to meet the requirements of tomorrow’s positions!

We know that intelligence is diverse. We think kinesthetically, visually, in abstract terms and so forth. Our intelligence is interactive — it is what ties the various forms together and makes each person distinct or unique. It is this uniqueness that needs to be celebrated. It is our uniqueness that defines what intelligence is to each individual — not whether we fit into the mold that has dominated our education system for the last 150+ years.

Going forward, we are going to need to change our view to allow this broader concept of interactive intelligence to eventually dominate the world view. This will allow our children to succeed at what they do distinctly best; therefore we are going to need to update our concept of what constitutes the richness of human capacity.

At Aim, we believe in helping to put the learning pieces together for you. We will spend the time with you and your child to understand what unique skills they have, identify areas of need and integrate the results into an individualized learning program.

We look forward to hearing from you!