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What do you want your child to learn in school?

Bill FoxBy Bill Fox/Columnist

Recently it was reported that 50 per cent of Grade 6 students failed to meet the province’s math standards, according to EQAO (Education Quality and Accountability Office) results.  I can imagine how upset some parents are at these results.  Please if your child was one who took this test, don’t take these results too seriously.

I wrote a column sometime ago about EQAO, as I had been a marker of English tests and found that the tests themselves are not a good grade of student learning.  EQAO costs taxpayers over $30 million a year and in my opinion should be disbanded.

There have been lots of criticism about how the test itself may have been poorly written and therefore a weak measure of a student’s understanding of math, and I would believe this to be the case.

When I was marking the Grade 10 literacy tests, for one particular question the students were to respond in three paragraphs.  If they wrote more they were to receive a ‘fail’ grade.  There were some very articulate answers that failed because instructions were not followed.  Were they illiterate, because of one missed instruction?

So as students have returned to school, as a parent what are your expectations for your children?

My four sons all attended the high school I was teaching in.  Only one graduated with first class honours.  Seeing as I was teaching in the same school, you would expect I might have wanted much more from my boys.

The important lessons are not always reflected in report cards or tests.  All of my sons have made my wife and I very proud of them as adult learners.  I recall one of our son’s grade school teachers telling me that the brightest of three sons she taught was not necessarily the same one with the best ‘grades’.

After being involved in education for over 40 years, I believe that schools in Ontario, in my opinion are in need of a major overhaul.

In this day of modern technology, what are we teaching our children in Grade 6 math. that will be useful to them in their future, and how much is relevant?

Think of your own education, how much was irrelevant?  When things are irrelevant, we tend not to care whether we learn or not.  The brightest minds in history did not succeed in school! Time Magazine’s “Man of the Century,” Albert Einstein was not an “Einstein” in school.

The Nobel Prize-winning physicist, famous for his theory of relativity and contributions to quantum theory and statistical mechanics, dropped out of high school at age 15.

So here are some lessons I hope all students, young and old are learning:

  • to be respectful,
  • to appreciate nature,
  • to be kind,
  • to offer help,
  • to be a friend to the lonely and the shy,
  • to share,
  • to look for the good,
  • to encourage others,
  • to be compassionate,
  • to be able to put themselves in another’s      shoes,
  • to be aware of spirituality,
  • to co-operate.

Now one lesson I learned as a teacher, is that the best lessons and greatest teachers are in the home with the parents, and time is one of the greatest gifts any parent can give their child.