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Book details
  • SubGenre:Philosophy, Theory & Social Aspects
  • Language:English
  • Pages:150
  • eBook ISBN:9781483543475

F for Failure

A Critical Examination of the Ineradicable Defects of Canadian Education

by J.E.G. Dixon

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The curriculum of different ‘subjects’ is useless, the subjects being unrelated to each other. The subjects imposed on our pupils do not impart a knowledge of the world we live in; to prepare them to make their way in the world; to manage money; to know the system of government we live under; or teach the most basic values of life. Post-secondary degree programs are a mere repetition of the high school experience. Universities perpetrate fraud against their students in five major ways: they have forfeited their duty to determine matriculation by conceding to the schools the qualifications of admission and thus raise false expectations; they recognize the importance of concentration of study too late; there is no final examination on the whole major discipline; all courses have equal value towards degree credits, whether in Greek Philosophy or Intro Sociology, and the teaching method is the lecture, which is not teaching. The origins of the malaise are twofold: the fundamental error of introducing democratic principles into policies and practices of education, of schooling, and of teaching; and the obsession with the social policy misnamed progressivism, as the propagandist of equality, champion of mediocrity, and enemy of standards. In my re-organized schools, the early years will be given to acquiring a mastery of one's language in its spoken and written forms, the foundation of all learning. At the age of 9 or 10—it might vary more widely— pupils will be required to choose a single field of learning or work which they will pursue to the exclusion of all else. In other words, I am turning on its head the current practice of learning piles of useless and unrelated 'subjects' , and have them discover an interest, a talent, a passion, a skill, and pursue it into all the various and numerous related fields it will inevitably lead to. Work of the mind and work of the hand are treated as being equally important. There will be no examinations.
Today’s curricula comprise many different subjects, most of which are neither useful nor valuable, and which have no relationship to each other The vast majority of school subjects have little relevance to an understanding of the world we live in or their part in it; and are not designed to prepare or equip the pupils for subsequent professions or occupations, The courses have little bearing on the development of the intelligence, which it seems to me should be one of the primary purposes of education. Knowledge in itself has little to do with education. Official statement: “The following goals reflect and are represented in the prescribed learning outcomes for Social Studies K to 7 in each curriculum organizer. Through their participation in social studies, students will be encouraged and enabled to understand and prepare their roles, rights, and responsibilities within their family, the community, Canada, and the world.” No student is allowed to fail a course or an assignment, because it would inflict a trauma on them and damage their self-esteem beyond repair. Equality reigns! Teachers are discouraged in some schools from using the terms ‘wife’ and ‘husband’ as relics of an age of inequality The lack of curiosity, the lack of a desire to learn, and apathy in the face of their ignorance, is the gravest possible indictment against parents, teachers, teachers’ schools, and education administrators. There are few problem children. There are children with problems Their problems are the parents. There are problem parents in the thousands. Their first sin is their failure to understand that their primary role in upbringing is as teachers. Unschooled parents are the greatest enemies of education and of their children’s success in life. Doctors and pediatricians are prescribing drugs for children supposedly ‘suffering’ from such disorders, drugs with names like antipsychotics and psychotropics. A pronounced feminization of the schools is everywhere in evidence. This triumph of the feminist movement in Canada has gone so far that many boys, precisely because they evince signs of unruliness or sheer boredom in class, are treated with a drug to feminize them. In anitoba ... there have been four ministers of education since 2000. The figures for Alberta are six ministers in the past fourteen years. In Ontario we find there have been no fewer than seven ministers of education since 2000. I have received no answers. The New Order. The Middle Ages was once the glory of education. They established sound priorities in learning, and their intellectual pursuits were informed by the highest standards; and because they insisted, first, on the essential tools of learning, which they called the trivium, which is the mastery of one’s own language. Participation is of the essence of education, participation on both the individual and the class levels. What is the best way in which to encourage participation? Why, to introduce topics and themes with which they are familiar or with which they can identify. Children need to be introduced at an early age to the arts of discussion—of forming and defending one’s opinion, and of entering into a well-mannered discourse with others who have different opinions—yet opinions which are, and recognized to be, equally valid. I would introduce bridge. It demands the disciplines of control and of self-examination before attributing mistakes to one’s partner. There can be few more important lessons for life: hesitate, and look within, before blaming another. Criticism is justly applied not only to the cultural creations of mankind, but to his social and political activities. Criticism, thus conceived and practiced, is one of the five essential pillars of Civilization. I am standing the curriculum on its head. Today the pupil is forced by that hydra-headed beast called Authority to study a range of useless subjects until finally, after many wasted years, he is permitted to choose an area of concentration.
About the author
Royal Air Force (UK) pilot 1943-48 Royal Canadian Air Force Security/Intelligence 1953-58 Lecturer/Professor of French Literature University of Winnipeg 1959-91 Retired Vancouver Island/writer 1991-present Université de Poitiers, France 1948-49 Merton College, Oxford 1949-52 Stanford University 1963-65