Canadian education is failing

It was the forties … a yesterday so close to now. It was a time of creation, a time when the middle class was blooming. It was a time of promise, a time of vision, and most important, “a time of belief.” It was a time that just didn’t happen in a vacuum. Simple, uncomplicated, traditionally understood foundations were still in place to help foster this era. Education needn’t be deluxe. With industry’s willing cooperation, a successful catalyst for growth was in place. Family maintenance was an essential ingredient for furthering development.

We were a country — intelligently primed, willingly prepared, socially coherent — in a manner that provided the rational, but more important, the opportunity of applying one’s talents to a wide range of “family sustaining work.” Dare we suggest, the lessons of the very recent past can do us some good today? Dare we proclaim, we should recapture ways that worked? Some do, even though it’s sure to provoke offensive criticism from “power’s determination” to deny the past, knowing it will upset their present agenda. They intentionally block our reminiscing. They do not want a middle-class functioning as before. “Power” now has the upper hand as never before. They possess the tools to run the planet. Where do we fit in?

Western European immigrants, arriving early in this century, vanguards of today’s middle class, did not find a pot of gold waiting for them. They didn’t expect it. They entered a self help environment. They struggled, tenaciously plodded ahead, determined to succeed. English — “the language of Canada” — was their first willingly accepted hurdle. Despite grueling sixty hour work weeks, education, learning our ways, learning the language of Canada… was a dedicated part of life.

It was not unusual to have children and parents, enjoying the process of becoming an engaged citizen … hand in hand. It was difficult to determine what took precedent, the need to earn a living or the determination to meld with Canadian society. Both, became core necessities of most families.

Teachers, students, families, were interactive, were responsive. Problems weren’t swept under the carpet. Special attention was readily available for students in difficulty … and readily applied. Teachers thought nothing of visiting with parents in their homes. It was a good place to talk about solutions to problems. Parents and teachers worked together. Parents felt it was a duty to attend every PTA (parent teachers association) gathering in school.

It was a time when one was expected to toe the mark. Students that excelled were advanced accordingly. Students needing more than usual help were not passed through the system … just to get rid of them. There were many choices available to prepare a youngster to be rewardingly self sustaining.

The absence of a college degree had not yet become stigmatized. Most could not afford to go all the way. They had to leave school early on and contribute to the family. A “trade school” education made it possible to succeed, but more important, it was an acceptable route to reach a good level of self sufficiency and productivity. An endless variety of beneficial opportunities were available. Earning a “family sustainable wage” did not translate into becoming drones in a work environment downgraded to limited job diversity … increasingly associated with becoming the “Chip’s” obedient servant.

Those who graduated from High School, but had to stop there, were not considered failures. They were never considered to be education deprived. They were not automatically relegated to unrewarding, menial, family disabling jobs. The education system at that level, just like levels below that, had sensibly and responsively provided the most essential ability … how to use the mind. That ability was a most important educational legacy. It was recognized, it was welcomed, it was valued.

Whether Grammar School, Trade School, High School, opportunity for growth was unrestricted. Proclaiming “I’m self made, self educated,” was understood … was respected.

Although this chapter is about education, the present day job market is undeniably entwined with present day educational deterioration. The reason for chaos isn’t the “buggy-whip” example (we don’t need it anymore) that’s being touted, it’s “corporates decision” to manufacture what we still need every day … elsewhere. The more of what we need and use in our daily lives that gets made elsewhere, “the less choice and opportunity” is available for workers back home in Canada. Government, the Judas it has become, is a shameless partner to the exodus.

Back when few had support or resources enabling their advance to college, it was a serious undertaking. Sacrifices made to enable that level of education were taken seriously. It was not a three or four year interim hang out. It was not a process one went through just to get a job. What you wanted to become had to justify total family involvement.

Having a fruitful multi-layered educational system, “pass them through thinking” wasn’t a needed maneuver. With enough levels of achievement and reward available, almost every student could realize fulfilling potential.
Teachers at each stage, had the ability — more important — understood the need to concentrate on every level in the educational process to ensure job market results. Perhaps at that time teachers were better able to feel rewarded by positive student results. Perhaps they were less stressed out because they and their students “were proud of demonstrable accomplishment.”

We had not yet become a contrived service economy. We were not yet being tutored to become the “servant of the chip.” The relationship between teacher, student, family — joining to target sound work opportunities … worked. Today, that relationship is fading into history. Teachers have become wardens. The traditional family is fast becoming a relic of the past. Students are floundering in “no-where land.” The “how to learn” disciplines of past educational professionals were displaced by “how to do” and finally, has arrived at “how to salvage” as we police.

You have heard the repetitive cry of corporate, “We can’t find anyone for the job.” Why can’t college students read or write? How did they get through college? Why has this become so prevalent? At what point in time — how! who! … was responsible for our education systems failures?

Did the “power of industry,” imposing its will on the educational system, induce development of narrowly educated specialists … they eventually didn’t need? Did their jobs going elsewhere cause ruthless dismissals of workers created with disposability in mind? Did corporate influenced government interference mutilate a just and improving economic system? Education and the array of available good paying jobs were once a beneficial environment for all. That era no longer exists for the masses. Is one, all, or more like the forgoing, causing the breakdown … the dilemma of today’s middle class?

Today it is common to know of or be one of the successful tossed out into the cold. The specialty trained for so studiously, performed so competently, is no longer needed in this “rearranged Canadian job market.” Dismissed engineers drive cabs to put food on the table. Dismissed talented managers are willing to take sales jobs with mall stores, to put food on the table. Entreprenurisim, a most difficult undertaking today, is becoming a reemerging road to possible salvation. What has made it so? Government dereliction of duty has had a heavy hand in it. Of all people our “President” has said we should expect to be transplanted many times in our working career. It is definitely not the kind of future we dreamed of. Why?

Not too many years ago I witnessed a significant, destructive alteration to our system of higher education. I was appalled but could do nothing about it. My older daughter, an accomplished student, was upset by a new program instituted in her college. Grades were no longer to be a prime criteria. Instead of competitive grades, a pass/fail program became the wave of the future.

The achievers protested. They were not happy. They were given an explanation. Special students (enrolled because of a new government quota law) would need special considerations to assure that they passed through the system. What better way to accomplish that … than instituting a pass/fail policy. In reality, the advanced achiever had been demoted.

Where does one concentrate? Is it plausible to assign contribution for failure — to our governments unwarranted interference — to resulting educational quagmires — to unresolved culture clash — to increasing social polarization — to family disintegration? Can you think of other reasons?

My younger daughter attended college six years later and was in another type of totally altered scholastic world. Attempts were made to tag it as a rainbow society, a strained euphemism supposed to soften growing culture clash. The beginning of the end for normal educational formats was in progress. Exploding on campus was drug acceptance, and its brazen use defied the will of exhausted educators. No longer, was there any resemblance to proper educational disciplines. Teachers, incapable of being both warden and educator … threw in the towel. Overwhelmed by an inability to concentrate on teaching — the newest educational gimmickry “the computer” … was welcomed and embraced. The machine became the teacher. The teacher became the machines promoter. The “Chip” had successfully gained entrance into the most important part of our lives … education of our youth. Any attempt to return to the three R’s was defined as a dream of fools. Teacher and student were captured. Silicone Valley was on a roll.

Amidst this turmoil, English, once willingly learned with pride (once a newcomers epitome of achievement), began to be forcibly diluted (with the help of government) by the languages of the latest arrivals to Canada.

The outspoken, consumed with “Canadian chauvinism” are labeled racists. They are not racists; they are the brave ones making an attempt to prevent the demise of Canadian culture and identity.

Our nation was created in a way, evolved in a way, and eventually dominated the world in a way that never happened before. Yes! we were a mosaic. Yes! we spoke different languages. Yes! we practiced different religions, but “we were all heading in the same direction.”

Now that the family is just about decimated, education showing no sign of repairing its deterioration, have we been completely captured by the “Chip” … irreversibly under it’s control?

If traditional education loses out to the “Chip” … all is gone. A confluence of professionals are arguing to re-institute the excellence of achievement in our educational crises. Everyone! our organizations dedicated to educational repair, TV talk shows, media of all forms, teachers themselves … agree the system is in shambles. It stands to reason, if so many are shouting “we have lost what was good in the past” … why then is there a coalition of resistance against extracting answers from the past? The recent past is not yet ancient complicated history.

Are we to label all supporters of the past as stupid? Are they all complaining and debating from a lost world, a “threatening” past era? Are they in the way of “corporate agenda,” transforming the world to the way of the “Chip”?

Have past educational accomplishments that created a thinking, growing, middle class … become too dangerous? Is there an ulterior agenda that must develop a more submissive society? Is a free thinking educated society an impediment to the future … “A NEW WORLD ORDER”?

If you have trouble with that kind of reasoning… look around and think carefully. Do you really want to wait until we all wind up in the unemployment line?