Schooling Under Stress: Schools Are “Outed” – Still! (Part 21)

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Canada’s national broadcaster, the one paid for by all Canadians but followed by approximately 3%, took it upon themselves to conduct a survey of thousands of “educational professionals to find out how they and their students are doing in this extraordinary school year…”

There is no doubt that this year’s major COVID-19 inspired school closures have been very disruptive.  The CBC survey generally found students to be having difficulty with new pandemic rules such as mask-wearing, social distancing and other rules being unilaterally laid down by public health officials who are obviously not in communication with public education officials.  Both students and teachers are emotionally, physically and mentally exhausted.

Making big changes usually brings about big concerns and lots of stress.  Having to make “school” work at home has been very frustrating for teachers who find it difficult, if not impossible, to complete their curricular responsibilities, and for students who simply find doing school at home cumbersome or difficult.  The psychological impact of these changes on both teachers and students has been bad enough to see both suffering major burnout.
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The Answer to Pandemic School Closures? Schools Are “Outed” – Still! (Part 20)

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Money!  More money!  Always more money!

An article I recently read about the pandemic school closures said, “Stakeholders have said schools will need more support than ever as the pandemic continues to take hold into the next academic year”.  Who are these “stakeholders” and what is meant by more support?

A few lines later we get some clarification with, “Fewer students are attending, because fewer students feel safe. And the reason schools are not safe is because they are underfunded.”
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A Dyslexic’s Perspective: Schools Are “Outed” – Still! (Part 19)

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Last week, I tried to explain how world view perspectives and consequent filters determine how we interpret information.  I say “tried” because interpreting information can be a complicated issue, as things are usually not black and white but many shades of grey.  This is not to suggest that truth is not absolute, as much as to say that people will find themselves in differing places along the path from error to truth.  I personally believe truth is the ultimate intellectual and spiritual destiny for everyone, even if the individual is not aware of it.

Having said that, let me give you another example of differing perspectives regarding something near to my heart.  As a dyslexic, my filters respecting dyslexia are very different from those who see it as a “condition” that needs “fixing”.  A recent article I read brought this issue clearly to light.

The article started with, “The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the challenges faced by people with dyslexia, who struggle with reading and writing despite apparently normal vision, intelligence, and spoken language ability.”  This is true, but it begs a definition of normal.  Also to be questioned is why dyslexics are singled out as affected when the lockdowns are affecting all students.
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Taking Things into Perspective: Schools Are “Outed” – Still! (Part 18)

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There has been a seeming avalanche of studies, research and opinions of late, indicating children are suffering as a consequence of the pandemic from falling behind, accumulating gaps, experiencing learning losses and other disastrous effects. There is no doubt this is true, but it is important to put these findings in perspective in order to get an accurate picture of what is truly happening.

Personal perspectives are the lens or filter through which we process information, and they ultimately determine or predetermine the conclusions we come to when interpreting evidence. Most people are fixed regarding their perspectives on things. Others have a more open mind, that is, they are willing and even want to test their foundational beliefs with the objective of wanting to know the truth.

A person’s filters are largely determined by the foundational world view of the individual. World view is essentially based on one’s understanding of God. Everybody has one. Most people believe their world view is the only correct one which is why there always seems to be an opposing mindset. As a consequence, everybody advances and defends their world view, which takes us back to our filters for interpreting the latest COVID-19 related findings.

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Learning Losses? Schools Are “Outed” – Still! (Part 17)

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The new reality of unplanned online learning brought about by the COVID-19 school closures has caused a lot of concern, particularly within the education industry.  Professional educators are worried about a number of things resulting from the new education dynamics, but are especially concerned about students falling behind.

The question is, how can a child be behind?  Behind what, exactly?  Does there not have to be some standard by which to measure this position or judgement?  Would this not necessitate a presumed standard child?  I must admit that in all my years of involvement in education, I have yet to meet this “standard” child.

Many years ago, an Alberta Education Minister addressing concerns parents were having regarding provincial achievement test results, said the tests were measuring how the curriculum was doing with the child, not how well the child was doing with the curriculum.  He clearly indicated the focus of education was more a matter of creating a product than encouraging student learning, which brings us back to the issue of “falling behind”.

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What? Nobody Wants to Be Tested? Schools Are “Outed” – Still! (Part 16)

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In the last two blogs we covered how parents are being accused of “minding their children’s business” when there are professionals to do that, and that, when inadvertently giving children choice, many children do not bother to do their online school work at home.

All this results from the fact that there is conflict whenever an individual extends his/her “authority” beyond the boundaries of the applicable jurisdiction.  For instance, the CEO of company A has no legitimate business telling Company B what to do.  Similarly, parents, who are the “bosses” at home do not really have a say in schools where teachers are the “bosses”, and vice versa.  It should come as no surprise, then, that when parents and teachers overstep each other’s boundaries, problems are bound to arise.

Every parent has been the victim of attempted manipulation by children who try to get different answers from each parent.  A child does this in his/her early attempts to divide, conquer and manipulate.  Good parents know the best way to counteract this is to ask the child if s/he has asked the other parent. If the answer is yes, one need only say, “Then why are you asking me again?  You have your answer.”
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Student Truancy! Schools Are “Outed” – Still! (Part 15)

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I recently came across another COVID-19 related article I simply could not ignore.  The article, which dealt with educators tackling truancy for online classes during COVID-19, immediately grabbed my attention.

Professionals at a particular school board were “…worried students learning online may be missing hundreds of hours of lessons during the COVID-19 pandemic.” They also said, “…many students registered for online learning are not engaging in their classes”, and “…they’re just sort of dropping off the face of the earth, so to speak…”  In fact, it was stated that “…the school division doesn’t know where they are.”

It should be obvious that this issue is not restricted to this particular school board.  It is largely a COVID-19 lockdown problem, but then again, was this another problem that existed all along and was simply under the cover of the school system?  A clue was provided when it was revealed that this school board hired four new social workers and intends to hire five more – for a total force of twenty – for the purpose of:
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Parent Involvement Not Welcome! Schools Are “Outed” – Still! (Part 14)

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Many years ago, when I was teaching high school biology, I had the pleasure of mentoring a number of student teachers.  On one occasion, I decided to give one of my student teachers some freedom so I removed myself from the class he was teaching and went into the office across the hall. I was working on lesson plans there when one of my colleagues’ student teachers came into the office to phone a parent.

The student teacher’s tone was very condescending.  Listening in on what was truly an amazing display of unprofessional arrogance, I realized I knew the lady on the receiving end of the phone call.  One of her children was in my class and I had had the pleasure of meeting her during parent-teacher interviews.  I knew her to be a very nice lady and could not for the life of me understand how a 22-year old student teacher who had no children of her own could be scolding a mom of eight children regarding her responsibilities as a mother!

As soon as the student teacher hung up the phone, I said, “You are very lucky it was not me on the other end of that conversation.”  Incredulously, she answered, “Why?”  I still marvel at the ignorance of that teacher-to-be.  Since she was not my responsibility, there wasn’t much more I could do or say, but I do remember being bewildered.  Who did she think she was?  The answer: a “professional”, of course!
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Final Thoughts On AHEA: On the Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA) (Part 15)

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I never planned to be an educator. In fact, being a dyslexic had me completely at odds with the education system in every way. However, I was smart enough to know that even though the system was broken, it was nonetheless a means to an end. In wanting to leave the world I was stuck in, I knew the only avenue of escape would be through obtaining a good education.

I did get an education and was on my way to becoming a veterinarian when I was “redirected” into a career in education, within the very system I regarded with contempt. I originally imagined it would be for a short time, as I planned to return to my vet studies, but that never happened. The rest is history. God does have a sense of humour!

So here I am, nearly forty-five years later, still active in this education career. My path has been such that I have experienced nearly everything possible, and I no longer plan to “return” to what would likely have proven to be the wrong career choice for me. I now believe I was made to be a teacher and a leader. I was given a vision and a heartfelt passion to help parents fulfill their responsibility of training and teaching their children, and indeed, that was what I did from day one of my career, often against the direction of my superiors. I deeply believed I was working for the parents, not some highly trained and often disconnected professional. To this day, I maintain the position that parents are in authority and are therefore “the boss”. So goes my “educational mantra”.

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Now What? On the Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA) (Part 14)

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I am sure you have already been told that things are not always as they seem. This is true.

We have all experienced situations where we have had to seriously change things in order to accommodate a new order. Life is full of these kinds of surprises. For instance, we likely have all been disappointed when we hear politicians say, “We are all in this together”, then proceed to live as though the “we” does not include them! And who can deny being stunned by the actions of someone we valued and trusted as a friend when (s)he did something that clearly showed they had bigger priorities than ourselves?

Those of you who have been closely following the recent activities of the Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA) may have been perplexed by the recent announcement regarding the creation of a paid leadership position. With much fanfare, the announcement read, “AHEA’s First Executive Director – An Investment in Our Future”. It contained a bit of information and a lot of hand-picked, congratulatory accolades solicited from some “big shots”.

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