Friday, November 28, 2014

Our Math SUCKS!! A look at NB's Education System

like the Marine's motto “...leave no man behind”

I really hope that a representation of our New Brunswick Teachers provide their thoughts on this article, as I am very aware that I am poorly researched in this topic, however, as our newspaper editorials and government is making all of their opinions public, why can’t I?

This Link does a pretty good job identifying how our middle school math scores are well below the National level.
Almost 32,000 Grade 8 students in New Brunswick took the 90-minute test in the spring of 2010.
Mean scores by province in mathematics
Canadian average
British Columbia
New Brunswick
Nova Scotia
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island
New Brunswick students scored an average of 478 compared to the national average of 500. The standard for their grade level was 358.

I firmly believe that Math Scores are the best litmus test on how we are doing across all of programs that our students are taking, as there is no room in math for subjectivity.. right or wrong.. that is all.. Having a national evaluation on History or Social Studies would be near impossible to generate any analysis on how our education program is doing versus other provinces. Therefore, I suggest that we can use our math rating as a general statement on our entire curriculum.

I laughed out loud as I saw the justification from John Grant McLaughlin (a UNB Math Professor) suggesting that our failing grade was a result of socio economic factors, fewer international students (as I guess they are smarter), teachers can’t teach math,  and that our students are not “inspired” by math.

Not inspired?? Show me a middle school student who is inspired – ESPECIALLY about math, and for my extrapolation – education in general. If we have a method to inspire teen angers – I think second to a cure for cancer, the world will be a much better place.

Another common “excuse” is the fact that our children miss a good number of days at school due to weather closures, or Teacher Professional development days. Although this may be frustrating to those parents who see our education as a daycare service, I stand firmly in a belief that if we added two, or even three weeks of education to offset these days.. it would have ZERO impact on the improvement of our provincial standings.

We look at the symptoms, and that is great for a politician.. we can spend millions on addressing the symptoms and get votes, and cut ribbons. We can write articles to the paper complaining about the number of field trips.. we can pay millions to re-arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.. but these efforts, and actions (at massive tax payer expense) have been going on for years – and we continue to have poor education for our children.

So what is the cause? I am positive that it is a complex issue, but I think the fundamental issue is the fact that it is no longer acceptable to let a percentile of our students fail. More than ever, the pace of the curriculum is slowed to a snail’s pace. Our curriculum and expectations are progressively being tailored to the small percentage of the class of students to those experiencing the most difficulty. 

Pace, Content and expectations are targeted and designed for a small number of students, who years ago, would simply fail, and be forced to repeat the year. But now, for the love of god, like the Marines motto “we leave no man behind”, our average and advanced students are slowed to allow ALL to progress.

There is much more to the activity of teaching to the lowest common denominator t than leaving a handful of stellar student  bored and unchallenged - we are setting the bar so low to accommodate the lowest, that the majority of the average students now will strive only to that bar. The average student will achieve only what is expected, and will not find internal motivation to exceed goals that have been set for them. With the goals set only to make sure every student gets a passing grade,  we are setting a level of performance well below what is truly necessary.

The solution? Accept the fact that the children with challenges may be forced to repeat a year, sure this may seem cruel to the handful of children this applies to, but is in not worse to strip the challenge and education of most of our students..

Pick of the pace, raise the bar, and manage the few that are unable to meet the requirements. The world, Universities, Trades will all welcome the fact that our students have been conditioned to reach to bar, to meet challenges, to accept occasional failure. Not a graduating class that believes coasting is an acceptable result. Programming our children that they need only be a bit better performer than the worst performer of the group will not fare well in the fast paced challenging world that they are walking into.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Internet Lynching - Efficient Yes, But Fair?

" some cases, the accused are actually innocent"

With Bill Cosby, Jian Ghomeshi and the two yet un-named Liberal MP’s being the latest of high profile sexual assault allegations, maybe it is time to take the typical Soapbox sideways observation of this media circus.

I have written for several years now, how the internet, although much more than a household word now, has crept into our lives, not only providing endless new applications, and value to near every man woman and child one earth, it has without much fanfare, fundamentally changed us as a society, and crept into, and not always to benefit – who we are, how we behave, and decisions we make.

Would the four people that I referred to in the introduction of this article still be scrutinized in an world without the internet, no social media, no instant multimillion person audience? I would say yes, the traditional media I am sure that these are significant enough public personalities that the accusations against them would be made public. But possibly the life span of the news coverage would be much shorter in duration, and the thousands of “experts, analysts, pundits” would be limited to a select few in covering the story.

I do think the value of the vastness and instantaneous sharing of information is a significant benefit of uncovering unscrupulous law breakers and even more so, of those creating criminal acts relating to sexual assault, as the accusers can see that they are not alone as victims in regards to specific criminals, as well as the anonymity of the internet allows accusers a voice, in the safety of remaining nameless.

Each day, there is a release of a new asshole who has abused women and children, some with public personalities and others, just sick spineless loners that have taken advantage of individuals.

But like anything progressive – this is a double edged sword. As Bill Cosby, Jian Ghomeshi and the two Liberal MP’s, this mass of humanity that is within data reach, has deemed them guilty of all charges. Their careers are destroyed, jobs lost, dragged through the mud. Families destroyed.. Guilty, guilty, guilty. But, with the viral accusations, of dozens, maybe hundreds, and the acceptance of their guilt – where is their right to defend themselves, where is the reliance on evidence, where is the judge and jury.

There has always been, guilty until proven innocent back to the days of drowning witches. Even traditional news has “hung” many a person well before they have had their day in court. It is a flaw we all share of assuming guilt, leaving the onus on the individual to prove his/her innocence. It is a shame but it is true.

With the social media afire with accusations and support for the accusers.. this guilty before proven innocence is outrageous. The speed and breadth of being deemed guilty will thoroughly destroy the defendant almost immediately – financial, professions, social and family destruction.

I think for the guilty – this destruction is a risk and deserved result of committing the crime, and punishes far beyond a few years in prison.


What if, just if, the defendant appears to have enough evidence against him/her, and stands trial. And in some cases, the accused are actually innocent of the crime they are accused of. The result being found (in a courtroom) innocent, changes nothing.. Their lives are still ruined, the public still hold them guilty. Yes, this horrible situation has existed from the beginning of law.. but the damage was localized, the defendant still stood a chance to regain some form of life, by relocating, starting anew. But if, just if Bill Cosby or Jian Ghomeshi or the Liberal MP’s are found innocent.. They will never have opportunity to start anew – they are already being punished and a courtroom is nowhere in sight.

What if you, as a reader of this, was accused of a sexual assault, (or any crime actually) and before you even have your first cup of coffee – your name is associated with a crime – on Facebook, on twitter, in the news. You have accusers who are nameless, and there is no evidence. You are helpless, your job will be in jeopardy, the momentum of accusations grow out of control.. you can defend as much as you wish but you are completely unable to defend against the barrage of accusations against you.. A person or persons who may have a vendetta against you have had you declared guilty.. and you may never have a day in court, as your accusers are anonymous.. a nightmare.

As public personalities continue to be added to the list of alleged scoundrels – maybe a proper trial should be our time to place judgement – not before.