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Showing posts with label Canada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Canada. Show all posts

January 13, 2019

Canada Education

Hi everyone,
I am an educational scientist from Turkey, giving a BA level Comparative Education course this semester.
Next week, we're going to be comparing the Canadian, German and Turkish education systems as a part of the syllabus.
Since I don't want to limit the discussion to the available documents, I thought it would be nice to get some insiders' perspectives to understand the actual practice with its positives and negatives.
In this respect, what do you like and dislike about your education system? What are the practical strengths and weaknesses, which might not be mentioned in official documents?
My students and I would be happy know how you feel about the issue.
Thanks a lot in advance! :)
Edit: I didn't expect so many replies really, I'd like to thank everyone who shared his / her opinion with me and my students! :)
48 Comments
71% Upvoted
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level 1
Ontario
39 points·10 months ago
You just need to be aware that education is within provincial jurisdiction in Canada and not federal, so each of the 10 provinces has their own education system. Most of them are fairly similar but Quebec, for example, has a different system that you don't find in other provinces. Some provinces has religious-based public schools, others do not. When you're comparing 'Canada' to other countries you need be aware of the caveats. Good luck.
level 1
Learning french in school is something that Ontario does horribly. I perfectly understand not wanting to hold back students who fail to pass French but if you are not going to force french then you might as well remove it as a time waster.
5 years of wasted time and at the end I didnt know any French.
How do you teach french better though? I have no answer. Maybe other provinces have greater success.
level 2
6 points·10 months ago·edited 10 months ago
I was always scared of my French teachers growing up, seemed like the most mean and miserable people taught it. I remember being in grade 9 french and having to copy EVERYTHING from a classmate because I didn't understand anything. I started in grade 3!!! Fucking hate French.
level 2
Lol even the english high schools in QC can't teach you french
level 2
Ontario
1 point·10 months ago
Very much agree. Even the immersion programs are a joke. I'm a French Canadian and went to a French school throughout all of my k-12 studies and my girlfriend who was in immersion throughout all of her highschool was still doing the equivalent of grade 4 grammar/skill by the time she was in grade 12
level 2
[deleted]
0 points·10 months ago
But did you really put in effort?
level 3
No. Almost no one did and those that tried didnt come out that far ahead unless they continued to persue french classes.
level 1
What I dislike the most about higher education in Canada is the tiny amount of online courses and programs available. I don't understand why a 20-something year old is forced to sign up and pay thousands for lectures that are more often than not taught by a poorly trained professor, consist of 60-200 students, and move at the pace of the slowest learning students. We should have the ability to teach ourselves, at the paces we choose. They need to decentralize education, make it cheaper, more open and more accessible by offering more of it online. Obviously not every program can be offered in this way, but many can (business, STEM, etc).
level 1
Ontario
26 points·10 months ago
This should go well. Just a heads up, this sub isn't really repesentitive of the majority of Canadians and is, at times, profoundly negative in their perception of everyday life here. If I were you I wouldn't put too much weight on what you read here.
level 2
British Columbia
-1 points·10 months ago
"Thanks for asking your question, but don't listen to the replies. I don't agree with them, so you shouldn't either."
-guy who's username indicates he has sex in a wolf costume
level 3
Ontario
3 points·10 months ago
Good one. I was more implying to take anything read here with a grain of salt, as you should do anywhere on the internet. Also, I use that name because I am a hairy dude and I thought it was an entertaining innuendo but even if I did have sex while wearing a wolf costume I don't think that takes away from the point I was making.
level 1
Alberta
9 points·10 months ago
I've spent my entire life in education systems, both as a student and as an employee.
The education system in Canada is diverse across provinces but my general observations are:
Likes
Some academic freedoms amongst teachers to deliver the content.
Teachers are paid well and it is competitive to get your B.Ed and find a job, so we do have very high quality teachers.
Dislikes
Education here is slow to change/adapt
We still use traditional industrial classroom models
Priorities of required courses can often be misguided. Example advanced English literature and mathematics courses are often required but basic lifestyles (balancing a budget, paying bills, etc) are rarely taught.
level 2
Comment deleted by user10 months ago(3 children)
level 1
No accountability of either teachers or schools for the education provided. A bad teacher that teaches nothing gets the same career path and benefits of great teachers. No incentive for teachers to be better, part government part union issue.
level 2
Comment deleted by user10 months ago(1 child)
level 1
I liked the school system growing up but the teachers were wankers. I had approximately 50 different individuals teach me by the time I was 22 years old. I can count seven teachers that were professional in conduct and had some amount of passion for their work. The rest were clowns, lazy, ignorant, violent, drunk, mentally ill, physically ill, power tripping, racist, and everything in between.
level 1
Likes: Cost of tuition in university is low, and quality of education is generally high. I attended one of Canada's most expensive universities and it was way way cheaper than any decent American private university. American universities with the same tuition cost, as the Canadian university I attended are generally crappy no-name public universities. The Canadian university I attended was way better than a South Dakota State or a West Virginia state yet had similar costs.
Dislikes: I didn't like how the school administration when I was a kid tried to force me to learn French as a second language. I think that in this day and age, it's better for Canadians to learn whatever second language they want. As long as we are all fluent in either French or English, it shouldn't matter if we choose Bulgarian, Punjabi, Hausa, Mandarin, or some indigenous language as our second. My parents and I fought the local school admin and we won. In the end I did not have to learn French and I ended up learning a different second language.
level 1
Ontario
6 points·10 months ago
At the post-secondary level, too many students are being let in, and there are too many liberal arts programs and not enough emphasis on STEM. There are no entrance exams to get into university. And tuition is very high and is a barrier to smart people from less well-off backgrounds getting into university.
Undergrad rograms also don't go far enough in-depth and require students to take courses that aren't relevant to their degree. At least that's how friends of mine outside Canada who have been educated abroad have criticized our system.
level 2
There will never be "enough" demand for STEM because those programs are hard and nobody likes hard. By grade 5 most kids already hate math.
level 2
Similar issues exist here too, I guess.
One difference is that we have a central exam for university admissions, but with certain and severe drawbacks.
It is 100% multiple choice, for starters, which makes it impossible for universities to disqualify candidates who lack, say, communication skills or whatever skills they might need. Because all universities are bound to admit those who are centrally placed by an algorithm. And it is unfortunately the most feasible option when it is considered that 2 Million candidates take the exam per year.
It has also created a huge private education sector (worth approximately 5 bn US dollars per year) which prepares students for the central exams. They have even managed to reduce the perceived value of public education, IMHO.
It has also reduced the priority given to one's needs and interests in terms of field selection among the students with low to middle levels of success, because every student can submit 24 choices to the system and the algorithm places them automatically, which, in time, turned into a system of submitting the choices which appear to be mathematically possible instead of those in which you are truly interested in.
The worst part is that people are afraid to ask for an autonomous evaluation by individual universities because everyone thinks it would be highly corrupted if they halted the algorithmic central placement and leave it to universities.
level 1
Canadian history is taught in an almost intentionally boring way, rife with political correctness and the denouncement of nationalism.
level 1
[deleted]
2 points·10 months ago
Not teaching the basics of finance contributing to how much consumer debt Canadians have pushing the university route and reinforcing the stignma about trades.
level 2
British Columbia
4 points·10 months ago
This is incorrect, at least in BC. Firstly Planning 10 does teach the basics of finance including budgeting and how loans work. The issue is that, that course is a joke. It's online, half the links don't work and no one takes it seriously. It is being phased out this year though in favour of a real in class course.
On your second point, while it is true that university is the most popular route after high school, trades are being pushed in school like crazy. For example my school district just built a new building exclusively for trades. This allows students to try out different jobs under a single idea. For example one on house building will include framing, electrically, plumbing, etc. There is also a program where the government pays for you first semester of trades education out of high school. Both of these programs and more are very assessable and pushed hard on students.
level 1
Not sure if this is the level of education you're interested in, but I've been a student in both Canadian and German university education systems... a few observations:
1) Structure; Canadian universities are much more structured, whereas in Germany you don't have all the social programming/sports facilities. Of course there are still student clubs, and there are still services to support you, but it's alot more "choose-your-own-adventure" in a German university.
2) Foreign students; in Germany the foreign students pay the same tuition rates as domestic students. This means the foreign students I studied with (and I was one of them) seemed to be more middle-class, and not extremely wealthy. The home countries of the international students was also much more diverse. Canada by contrast charges foreign students extremely high tuition fees, and basically uses them to collect extra money for the universities.
3) Facilities/admin; from my observation it appears to be smaller in Germany. I know it's a common complaint that Canadian schools have administrative bloat, and anecdotally I observed that to be true. My German schools are also much more basic – there are new buildings, but things seem to be built like a public highschool, and not premium quality everything (which is fine).
4) Student benefits; they're done better in Germany by probably every metric. Our school had subsidized cafeterias which made cheap but good food, university residence is at bargain price instead of highway robbery prices, and student discounts are common for museums/transit, etc. In Germany there are students loans (no tuition, but it helps with your living expenses), but unlike in Canada they do not accumulate interest, they cap at something like 10 000 EUR (beyond that is a grant), and you only repay when your income passes a certain level.
5) Science research; I'm not in the sciences, but I guess this is where Canada does something right. Apparently really great funding for university research.
6) Funding to go abroad; in Canada its pretty minimal – the funding system shifted in the last 15 years, to keep Canadian scholarships mostly focused in Canada, and leaving Canadians who study abroad out to dry. Germany by contrast has the DAAD government funding mechanism, which exists to send German students/artists/academics abroad, and it funds them quite strongly.
7) Age of students; I haven't looked at the statistics, but I think alot of people take more time/start late for university in Germany. For example, the masters program at my school had a minimum age of 25 to join. By contrast, a relative of mine was done her masters at 24 in Canada.
8) Bilingualism; German students start learning English from a young age, and university students tend to have at least sketchy English (and many of them have great English, and perhaps some French or Spanish even). The average Canadian university student outside Quebec is not bilingual, barring someone who had tutoring or a special school, or has family born abroad. Canadian students do learn French from a young age, but the system doesn't really work.
The common answer people give to explain poor bilingualism in Canada is "we never use French," which is probably true. When French class is only 1 hour a day, it gets really compartmentalized, and becomes kinda useless. I think it's also taught badly... with too much focus on grammar, and not enough on French culture, or making you interested in what you could do with French. As an adult, I wish I had paid more attention. The people I know who were bilingual did either really intense French education on the side, or went to French immersion schools.
Unrelated to university:
8) Highschool system; Germany has their differentiated highschools, which basically sort you into your career path at a young age. It takes alot of work and time to shift paths later if you change your mind, and some people argue that the present system is a bit classist. Canada keeps all students in the same highschool, although they take different levels of classes.
9) Family funding; in Germany it's quite typical for people to get help from their families all through university; in Canada this is also quite common (because it's an economic necessity), but I think the attitude is a bit more "you're an adult, you should handle your own things soon" in Canada.
level 2
That's a great comparison, exactly what we do in the class! Thanks a lot for your contribution! :)
level 1
Like: Relatively good quality fo education (comparable to most highly developed countries) Dislike: No universal higher education so many students without well-off parents end up highly indebted.
level 1
British Columbia 
1 point·10 months ago
I dislike the education system as it hasn't been updated since when?? (Saskatchewan) Like a whole course on social media/internet. Another on money management. Not the chapters you get in A30 or whatever... I feel like nutrition and physical Ed could also be expanded and modified to closer reflect present day realities.
level 1
The problems don't exist on the level of educational science.
They exist in the context of funding, priority and politics.
A system like student loans ensures that the person shopping the market isn't the person spending the money. This ensures a lack of quality.
It's comparable to the latest fad toy, poorly built and overpriced because the person that wants it isn't the person paying.
University professors are truly astounding in the variety available. Some are amazingly great, some are literally absent for half the class and learning the course material days ahead of the students.
level 1
From my experience I think most of what is required in high school is kind of iffy as far as being useful goes. If you do post secondary it’s fine, but really the difference between how useful someone will be to society between a junior high degree and a high school one seems minimal. By the end of honour high student have English, math, some random history and science knowledge. High school English was reading comprehension mostly of poems and Shakespeare’s dramas. From my perspective this was pretty much a waste of time. Math can in some case be useful, but I imagine for slot of people it was not so much. For social they could move anything they truest view as important into lower grades. Sciences are same as math pretty situational on how useful knowledge learned there can be used by individuals. Only mandatory thing that I would say is super useful was probably coms, they really should put that shit into lower grades. Personally I would think have specialized high schools focusing more on what students are into would be more useful. Want to do engineering, probably analyzing Shakespeare’s is not a particularly good use of ones time.
level 1
Ontario
1 point·10 months ago
I currently live in Germany and have a lab at a German university. I have students who were trained in the German system, and we have had mini-debates about the merits of the German and Canadian systems often.
Relative to Germany, Canada's system is more one-size-fits-all, and I think that this is a strength both for sorting out who the best students in the system really are, and for providing common experiences for all students. In Germany, too many bad students still get their Abi just because their well-to-do parents were able to hoodwink a Gymnasium to take their very average 10-year-old. Similarly, I think that many students in the other tiers (especially good quality Gesamtschulen) are somewhat worse off then bad students of good quality Gymnasia. I also think the predictive validity of the kinds of tests that Year 4 students get in Germany is pretty low. You can't tell me that the tests and recommendations they use to select students for the gymnasium are particularly sensitive. Mostly they serve to select students who don't speak German very well...
I think that the Canadian system (no streaming, lots of flexibility) allows people to find their strengths and pursue them, regardless of their class origin. This is important for society, since talent and merit should be more important than class; we will have a more equal and competitive labour market that way. I also like the focus on math and english/french--these are core skills that every adult should have.
In Ontario at least, the most important disadvantage is the length of secondary and postsecondary schooling. I graduated from high school under the OAC system at 19, had my BSc by 22, a Masters by 24, and my PhD by 29. In Germany I see people who have a PhD who are only 25; they entered uni at 17. This probably represents a large number of lost years of labour, and may make 25-year-old Canadians poorer than their German counterparts if they can't get a job as fast. I also think that the German system is much, much better in arranging paid internships and apprenticeships--some of the hands-on job training here is remarkable, and Canada has nothing like it.
level 1
Ontario
1 point·10 months ago
It's important to note that in Canada education is governed at the provincial level so there are significant differences in each province. However, they all have this one-size fits all mindset. Like, there is one way to learn how to read or one way to learn math. They never take into account differences in children and instead try to fit them all into that same hole. This is fine if you can fit into the hole but if you can't you will go through the Canadian education system really hating school.
In some districts in the US they are moving to a 'competency-based learning' approach which I think has shown to be better overall for the child. But, even if we didn't do that in Ontario I wish the Ontario government would provide some funding for private schools that could. Ontario is one of the few jurisdictions in North America that doesn't provide public funding for private schools.
As far as an insider's perspective my wife is actually a teacher so she has a lot of specific knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes if there is anything specific you want. Last week she was dealing with the school board bureaucracy. They got the number of kids the school is projected to have next year from the board and they seem crazy wrong. Like there are 3 grade 4 classes today but only projected to have 1.5 next year. It doesn't make sense that all these kids would leave. However, those are the numbers so principals have to assign classes based on it. Everyone knows they are wrong but they can't do anything about it until 'reorganization' in September. Just one more inefficiency to add to our system.
level 1
[deleted]
1 point·10 months ago
Teachers hold the governments hostage.
level 1
[deleted]
0 points·10 months ago
Back in the 90s I thought the IT revolution would make physical attendance a thing of the past by now, but there are too many rackets surrounding higher ed for them to want to evolve.
level 2
Comment deleted by user10 months ago(1 child)
level 1
What level of education are you looking at? k-12 or something more specific? My education was in Ontario fwiw
Like:
  • Teachers are highly qualified, in high school my experience was that they are just terrific people in general
  • There was an emphasis on science where I was educated, but that might be specific to my school board. In high school the science wing was very well-funded.
Dislike:
  • most of the grade school curriculum is a waste of time (e.g. social studies, drama, physical ''''education''''), this is abundantly clear in grades 1-6, it's more just daycare so that the parents can be productive
  • History was completely limited to Canada, I went through the entire system without learning anything about the US or the rest of the world, most ontarians graduating high school are stunningly ignorant on the rest of the world
  • very limited view points; our schools are supposedly designed to teach us to think critically but there are very few opportunities presented to students that might actually have them exercise this faculty. sometimes viewpoints are literally taught in the textbooks (e.g. "canada is a multicultural country :) ")
level 2
most of the grade school curriculum is a waste of time (e.g. social studies, drama, physical ''''education''''), this is abundantly clear in grades 1-6, it's more just daycare so that the parents can be productive
Social studies was basically geography and history when I was in grade school back in the 90's. Both of those are not a waste of time.
Physical education is making sure kids get exercise while also having a fun time (let's be honest, they are still kids after all).
level 3
Physical education is making sure kids get exercise while also having a fun time (let's be honest, they are still kids after all).
that's what recess is for. PE actually has some potential as a class to teach about basic nutrition/healthy/shit to keep you in shape after you're finished school, they waste it though.
level 1
I think the CEGEP system in QC is really awesome. Here's why:
  1. It makes high school shorter
  2. It's not as hard as university and yet still better prepares you for university
  3. It makes university shorter
  4. You can take chances, spend more time figuring out what you want to do and it's next to free
  5. You can do a technical program (which takes one extra year), join the workforce right away with good preparation or still continue with your academic career, or some combination thereof
  6. It's not as demanding as university, but you still get almost the same level of freedom as you would in university + all the partying
level 2
1 point·10 months ago
And CEGEP teachers are amazing. So many good memories.
level 1
[deleted]
-7 points·10 months ago(6 children)
level 1
we should have a national curriculum which is adopted in whole or in part by each province.
the curriculum should be available entirely digital, from course material to assignments to exams.
grading should be automated and not the responsibility of the teacher. the computer should determine the final grade, the teacher can mark and enter grades for hand written work.
the student should have the option of completing any number electronic assignments and reading material at any time to improve their grade. obviously the teacher would need to review this for cheating or helping the student progress.
the largest problems with the current system are:
  1. The teacher waste too much personal time getting course material that should be widely accessible to them.
  2. Teachers are not skilled enough to grade students. nor are they taught how. it is also a waste of their time.
  3. grades are not weapons to be used to get assignments done. grades are a reflection of skill. currently the grades create an aura of conflict between teachers, students and parents. this should not be the case, grading should be open and transparent.
  4. scholarships worth thousands of dollars should nto go to students who took band and math from the teachers who give everyone 90's.