Tuesday, February 08, 2011

A tale of two schools

I want to tell you about two schools:
I won't pretend that the linked reports are unbiased comprehensive depictions of either school, but they paint an interesting picture of the type of education that occurs in each school. Please ensure you take a few moments to read each article.

Now, you might be surprised to hear that some have deemed Mormon Hills school to be the best school in BC, while claiming Athabasca Delta Community School is one of the worst schools in Alberta.

This little tale of two schools is indicative of the Fraser Institute's view on the function of education.

Without knowing too much about either school, it is reasonable to expect that the level of critical thinking being developed at Mormon Hills School would be low. After all, you would not want the 14-year old students/brides to be questioning authority or their pre-defined future careers in "cooking, cleaning and child-minding." But, who needs high levels of critical thinking skills in order to fill in the bubbles on multiple-choice tests?

On the other end, you have the high needs children of Athabasca Delta Community School, where students are starting out well behind in academic achievement and are further hindered by "numerous socioeconomic issues beyond their control and comprehension." The small miracles of the school are accomplished when the students can read the exams, let alone answer the questions.

On one hand we have a school that is doing everything it can to help students achieve to their fullest potential in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds and on the other hand we have a school that is seemingly focused on ensuring that their students are best positioned to be subservient cogs in an oppressive regime.

And the Fraser Institute is saying that the one form of education has little value while the other one is commendable.

But, as I've written about at least twice before, this fits the world-view of neo-conservatives like the Fraser Institute. Their world-view is based on a father-knows-best morality and their vision of education is based on a system that develops good little worker cogs.

The alternative is a system based on nurturing talents and encouraging students to think critically and creatively over multiple domains, prepared to be confident open-minded citizens.

I know which education system I prefer.



This post was inspired by this article.

3 comments:

Connie said...

It is shocking that even the Fraser Institute would come up with such a conclusion. Surely this will take a big chunk out of their credibility with the hard core religious right.

Sixth Estate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sixth Estate said...

The Fraser Institute's data is mostly bunk, as I tried to argue on my own review of the new report card, here.

But basically, the FSA test is a test of a few skills only, which, as you say, jives entirely with what they want to see from education. It won't harm the credibility with the religious right because for the most part religious schools show up well in these rankings. All but three private schools are listed as outperforming relative to parental income, which religious communities will love.