To the Editor:
Recent articles in Ontario newspapers are reporting of demonstrations in Queen’s Park, at offices of Conservative MPPs and in my area, at a meeting called a Community Forum on May 28th, held at Bruce County Museum.
It appears that the organizers invited the Teacher’s Union bargaining President, Betty-Jo Raddin and a self-professed expert researcher Beyhan Farhadi but did not schedule a date to accommodate the Ontario Minister of Education.
Reports printed after this meeting by the press elaborate on the negative aspects of e-learning and how, in the opinion of the two people mentioned by name, it will be sub-standard to the process of learning now being received by students.
It is not hard to understand that a person chosen to represent a union at the bargaining table will have a biased opinion. Their first responsibility is not the product being made or delivered. It is to the membership of the union who gave her the responsibility to represent them.
The articles I have read do not state that Ms. Farhadi is in fact a teacher. Her own website states that she has taught English & Spanish since 2007 at the secondary school level and is currently on leave of absence for graduate school. It is also not hard to understand a conflict of interest in being able to speak in an unbiased way about e-learning and, also be a union member.
Teachers are scared. Why should they not be? The same thing that most of the public has always been aware is that progress and innovation causes change. We the public have learned, albeit not always a pleasant experience, that many of us no longer can expect have the same career forever. Teachers in Ontario however have never in the last few decades considered themselves vulnerable to the same elements as us common working folk and as taxpayers, their employers.
Consider this. The method of teaching has not really changed in over 200 years. Teachers have always been located, in schools, where students went to the teacher. Meanwhile technology has transformed the world. Technology occurred often because of situations that inspired a different solution. Technological change was driven by economics, a better or improved method to do something at lower cost to society in either dollars, time or well-being. In my estimation, the need for a fresh look at education is well overdue. The costs are higher and higher and the rewards for those high costs are less and less for the average taxpayer.
E-learning is a good method of using technology advances to improve delivery of education. As early as 1970 good programming on TV Ontario provided pre school children excellent ways to early introduction to reading with shows such as “Read Along”, it and American productions like “Electric Company” were good. Producers used creative ideas to make the learning experience entertaining, captivating, and successful in teaching 3 to 4 years old kids how to read.
Since that time technology has exploded. Computers are a household item like television was in 1970. All aspects of life are now or soon to be dependent on computer technology. Young people take to the technology quickly and are adept at using it.
For those in rural areas, the opportunity to learn via e-learning opens many possible side benefits such as someday in the future maybe the need for long bus trips for children can be eliminated. Lessons could
be produced and delivered to students so that they could learn at their own pace, some slower, some quicker without the teacher needing to teach to the classroom mean. Think of all the possibilities.
I cannot understand why teachers or anyone else would not agree that it can be a fantastic opportunity to improve in making education available and cheaper to everyone. On second thought, maybe I can. Some of them may have to work all year round like the rest of us who pay their wages.
New demands imminent on the horizon related to climate change and pollution are already being downloaded to the taxpayer. With these newly added monumental costs, it is high time for change. Teacher’s Unions need to start participating and stop complaining. Step into the New World from ancient times.
Jim Reid, Southampton