My wife recently became a public school teacher, and we have many friends who are also teachers. As we were sitting around talking about the public school system in Ontario, it became very clear to me that many classrooms do not have textbooks for the students. I was dumbfounded to hear this…a classroom with no textbooks. Now, I am the first to admit that no one likes a teacher who just reads from a textbook to the students…that is not an effective learning method. However, without a textbook or some form of standard information, how can we ensure that all of the students are learning the same thing. I don't know if this is a money issues or a conscious decision by the school board, but I am not sure how we can run an effective public school system without textbooks. What if students want to read ahead and take initiative to learn more? What about those students who may be falling behind? How can a student study for a test without material?
In order to compete with the private school system, public schools need to offer at least similar opportunities for learning. Not having textbooks or providing tools for learning is not putting students in a position to succeed and is not providing the parents with the tools to help the kids succeed. We always talk about how important it is for parents to encourage learning in the children and help them thrive, but how can we do that if we don't know what they are supposed to be learning?
Too often I hear comments about the only real learning kids do is when they go to special programs or private schools. If this is the case, then what are public schools offering? Have they become just a place for kids to go to stay out of trouble? Does that not then make them glorified daycares? I hope I am wrong on this, but the anecdotal evidence is piling up.