Is a perfect class size the magic to student learning?
Spoiler: The unions want you to think so.
Thank goodness the PC government is evaluating the Ontario school curriculum. Are you glad? You should be. The current curriculum is outdated, restrictive, and weighs down student learning.
I have spent my professional career teaching, engaged in student learning, and studying student learning. Schools should be all about student learning. Everything that happens in the school, and everyone associated with a school should be part of increasing student learning.
Pretty straight forward you say? So why do we spend so much time discussing class sizes like this is the main factor that is going to magically change student learning? Sure, every teacher would love to have classes of 15 students, but that is simply not practical. And every teacher would prefer to not have more than 30. But, depending on the nature of that year’s group of students, 31 wouldn’t make a big difference.
What about other numbers? Does it really make a difference if the class size is 22 vs 25? What about 20 vs 24? What is the magic number? Study after study consistently come to the same conclusion – teacher ability is the magic – the key factor – that most influences student learning. Better teachers always have better classes and better student outcomes.
Why then do we hear so much about class sizes and why did the previous Liberal government put in hard caps on size? Why is any discussion of student learning so focused on class sizes?
Well, for one, it makes intuitive sense. It’s like the argument to eat fat-free. This seems to make sense so people buy into it, but the real story for healthy eating is much more complex.
In the same way, a focus on class sizes is not the full story when aiming to improve student learning.
There are many variables to consider and this is the job principals do. Putting hard caps on class sizes actually hampers the principal. Variables to consider are things like, class dynamics, teacher ability, special needs students, and even classroom size, to name a few.
The reason class sizes are discussed as the magic answer is because with hard caps, a school can be forced to hire more teachers and this is what the teacher’s unions want. Unions look out for their members, and job security, along with an increase in the number of jobs, is their top priority.
How does this relate to the outdated curriculum? It is all about control. Unions need to control their members and, in this case, they see teachers as part of an assembly line approach to education. Each member on the assembly line must do their part or the end product is messed up.
But, in education, we are talking about people, about children, about the most vulnerable, precious part of our society. Kids do not think and act like an assembly line. We should not treat them like there is a most desired end product.
Historically, when the Industrial Age really got going, children were not needed to be part of the workforce. Unions helped, then, to get laws changed to disallow children from working full time. Our entire education system changed from one for the few, to one for the masses. Since the assembly line system worked in factories, kids were also put into this kind of system.
As you know, we now group kids by age and furthermore, judge their intelligence and ability based on some perceived norm for that age. Everything in that method is fraught with difficulties. Today, we know so much more about how brains work, and how students learn. This entire way of thinking in our education system needs an update.
We can start to update our system by treating teachers like the professionals they are. Their unions do not treat teachers this way. Right now, in too many classrooms, teachers are not allowed to be their best. The system is controlled by the unions and not by teachers.
Too often when a teacher presents a new idea for the school or their grade, the senior teachers turn the idea down saying things like ‘that’s not how we do it here.’ And if a parent tries to offer a suggestion, the response is an even quicker no. If an idea for a before school math club, for instance, would need teachers to work before their stated beginning time which the union says they can’t do.
To really respect teachers and their creativity and drive to teach, we can start by updating the curriculum in simple ways. Let the restrictive curriculum loosen – the curriculum that gives teachers a cookbook of recipes to follow for each grade. Instead, we can allow the teacher to follow the class interests. Let the class imagination drive what subject is used to teach writing and math, and even science.
Does it really matter if Medieval History is taught in grade 4 or 6? For Science, every year should explore, ask questions, get messy, and do experiments. Exactly what is taught in each year for Science does not matter, it is the thinking that matters.
And finally, let’s use some of the successful aspects of the one-room schoolhouse, and group various ages of students by knowledge level, or by subject interest for at least a portion of the school year. Some schools have had a lot of success engaging students with four days of ‘regular’ learning and one day each week with a completely different structure.
Why do we accept conformity as the gold standard for teaching? For our students?
There is no such thing as a perfect student and no such thing as a perfect teacher. Even the best student can have an off day, or off week, because of illness or whatever. Even the best teacher will have one unit that they aren’t stellar in, or don’t do with as much gusto because of illness or life issues.
Our education system should NOT punish because of this. The number one thing we know students need to learn is the ability to learn. Let’s teach them how to find solid information about the ocean, or poetry. Let’s teach them how to know when there is more information to be gathered. Let’s teach them to analyze and think.
We can do this. We have wonderful teachers in our school system who hold their tongues, quiet their voices, wait their turn to offer an opinion. Let’s create a system where we allow each and every teacher to be the best they can be.
We can bring our education system into the modern era with just a little bit of political will. Worrying about the class size is a distraction and not a solution.
A promising young Broadway star has come under threat of cancellation after some of Twitter’s own Mean Girls discovered she was following “conservative” accounts on Twitter.
Laura Leigh Turner, an actress who recently landed the role of Karen on the Broadway adaptation of Mean Girls, is currently the subject of a Change.org petition demanding she be removed from the production for being allegedly “transphobic” and holding “pro-life” views.
On February 10, 2020, Twitter user @robbedsettos began screenshotting accounts which were followed by Turner’s account—which included Donald Trump, Ben Shapiro, Sean Hannity, and Fox News.
Turner, who follows 203 accounts on Twitter, was also found by The Post Millennial to be following Barack Obama, Vox, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as well as some more benign accounts like IHOP and comedian Steve Carrell.
@robbedsettos’ thread continued on to call Turner a “bigot” for making what appeared to be a joke about agreeing with Donald Trump about the food at the Oklahoma State Fair in a post on Turner’s Instagram, where she shook hands with the President. A retweet by Turner of American Evangelical leader Beth Moore was also singled out and mocked.
Other Twitter users joined in to distribute the Change.org petition, such as @_tylerhaddad, who called Turner “transphobic scum.”
It is unclear what, if anything, Turner said which could be interpreted as “transphobic.” No tweets have been provided by any of Turner’s critics, including in the extended threats which have been populated outlining her supposedly “bigoted views” which relate to gender or trans politics. The Post Millennial was also unable to find any such statements, tweets, or Instagram posts by Turner. Additionally, other than following some pro-life accounts on social media, Turner has never issued a direct statement on any political position.
The cancel campaign against the nascent broadway star is yet another example of cancel culture, perpetuated by a legion of pseudonymous accounts—each vying for social credibility. Otherwise unknown users, when given a platform and the ability to signal boost one another, are a danger to every public personality.
The Post Millennial reached out to Laura Leigh Turner for comment, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has missed the deadline for filing financial disclosure statement with the ethics commissioner “due to an oversight”. It was confirmed by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Disclosure statements are to be filed within 60 days of any MPs election and is to be published in the Canada Gazette. Though Trudeau’s deadline was January 13, no report has been submitted.
Trudeau is one of only 13 MPs to not submit his report. Of those 13, nine are Liberal Party members, including Public Safety Minister Bill Blair. Three are Conservative Party Members, and one one is Bloc Quebecois.
There is no penalty for missing the deadline for filing the statement. The purpose of the statement is to outline which MPs’ families have private interests that could, later on, be seen as conflicts of interests.
Trudeau has previously been found to be in violation of the Conflict of Interest Act—once by accepting a family vacation to the billionaire religious leader Aga Khan’s island, whom Trudeau described as a family friend; and by inappropriately pressuring former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould during the SNC-Lavalin affair.
The full report of who did and did not submit their report can be read here.
Police are preparing to clear the CN Rail train tracks in Belleville, Ontario, of demonstrators who managed to halt all train travel between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, according to CBC News.
On Tuesday, police officers warned those who had gathered at the tracks that they should leave or face arrest if they did not leave. It is unclear how many protestors will actually leave willingly.
Since the protest began last Thursday, Via Rail has had to cancel 157 trips, leaving at least 24,500 passengers stranded. All freight trains carrying goods across the country are halted as well.
Although the demonstrators did not place any objects on the tracks itself, they did set up camp in a location that was too close to the tracks for the trains to pass safely.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he would not intervene in any of the #ShutDownCanada protests. Conservative leaders, on the other hand, were outraged by Trudeau’s lack of leadership in dealing with the shutting down of major highways and railways.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has refused to say that he will intervene in the #ShutDownCanada protests, which have crippled large parts of Canada’s infrastructure.
Speaking to reporters, the Trudeau said that, “I’m encouraging all parties to dialogue and resolve this as quickly as possible.” Trudeau, however, did not condemn the protests or threaten to intervene.
Over the last week, major parts of Canada’s infrastructure have been at a standstill due to blockades erected by activists opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline being built in northern British Columbia.
In Vancouver Island, protesters erected barricades to stop cars from accessing public highways. In Metro Vancouver, 57 demonstrators were arrested after judges granted an injunction to remove a blockade that had stopped workers from entering the Port of Vancouver.
Likewise, in Ontario, protestors decided to occupy the office of the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations in Toronto—chanting slogans like, “Canada is an illegitimate, violent, colonialist state.”
Demonstrators also blocked the train tracks in Belleville, Ontario, bringing all freight and passenger trains between Canada’s two largest cities and the nations capital to a halt.
So far, nearly all of the Conservative leadership candidates have strongly told Trudeau to enforce the injunction and remove the blockades. It is, so far, uncertain as to the extent of the cost to the Canadian economy from these protests.