The Strike: Something Needs to Change

It seems there is growing consensus that something needs to change in the field of education. The conflict between teachers and the Ontario government is an example.

Teachers are demanding more, not less, assistance as their responsibilities increase in terms of not only educating children but raising them. In more and more families, both parents work long hours. Children and youth are spending more and more time in school; in care programs; in adult-directed clubs, teams and lessons; or in front of screens. The influence of parents has diminished, and the role of educators has increased. It is no wonder that teachers need more resources.

The government for its part has limited resources and everyone wants and needs more – more educational funding, more physical and mental health services, more services for seniors, more social services, more security through policing and justice, more infrastructure – more, more, more!

Both sides of the teacher-government conflict have valid points; so, in addition to looking for a short-term solution, we should also be taking a longer, broader view to find a viable solution that will see our educational system into the future.

We need a system that provides more than just academic education. We need a system that provides for the whole development of each child – physical, intellectual, social, and personal. We need a system that by its nature supports children in becoming adults prepared for a democratic, globally linked, fast changing future; a system that provides the teachers with a proven means of using their skills effectively.  We need a new system that naturally supports these needs rather than a system trying to provide for the child’s whole development in spite of being designed to educate the past’s industrial, assembly line worker.

There is an educational system that has been proven to meet these needs. It is built around the development of the whole child. It places the teacher and the student at the intersection of three equally important constructs: the child’s development, the skills and knowledge needed for the future, and the learning environment. The system is Montessori – it works; it is proven to work. Given a chance it could give educators the tools they need for the larger role they play with today’s children.

Increasing funding for a system that is challenged to meet the needs of today’s students and teachers is one way forward, but why not also consider how to implement an alternative, proven system that can better meet society’s needs? Can Montessori solve the challenges of Ontario’s education system immediately? No, but it can provide a way forward. It can provide hope for both sides and, more importantly, for our children and our future.

For one explanation of Montessori education: