I was struck by several things in the letter "Junior high hits a low" (December 3) and felt the need to step in with my two cents.
This gentleman wishes for his grandson to attend university and cites a private school that "can demonstrate that 97 percent of its graduates are admitted to university." While he is entitled to his own opinions, I feel the need to point out that the public school system is supposed to be for everyone; everyone does not wish to attend university, nor should they. I myself am a university grad and know for a fact that the majority of undergrads do not waltz into high-paying, secure jobs; generally these are reserved for tradespeople.
There are many lucrative and rewarding careers out there for individuals who do not wish to attend university but other post-secondary training. Unfortunately, too many of us forget this and this career path is stigmatized by the middle and upper classes.
I chuckled when I read the bit about the grade eights covering one section of their textbooks per week. I am about to graduate with my teaching certification in April 2010 and have had numerous conversations with educators (professors and teachers) and teacher candidates, not to mention experience teaching in junior high and high school classrooms. The fact of the matter is, our current education policy is an inclusive one, which not only means that the system is intended to cater to all types and levels of learning, but also to those individuals with special needs like autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, dysgraphia, et cetera. Nova Scotia's education policy states that these individuals should be in the classroom with their peers, not tucked away in the resource room. This involves a lot of time and commitment on the part of students and educators, so covering one section per week is unrealistic.
Finally, as one with knowledge of Nova Scotia's secondary mathematics curriculum, I can assure you that it is unrealistic to expect that educators will cover it in its entirety, unless the aim is to cater only to those students at the top of the class. While I agree that learning multiplication tables and grammatical rules are essential, the goal of our schools should not be to cover as much content as possible, it should be to help students become thoughtful about and productive with this content.
I am not necessarily happy with our public school system in its entirety and I understand that like so many of us, this gentleman only wants what is best for his family. I do believe, however, that we need to understand the way our system actually works before we can hope to make any improvements.
—A Hopeful, Soon-To-Be Teacher, Halifax