Making Up for Learning Losses – A Response

Schools scramble to make up for learning losses that have already occurred in the pandemic, Jessica Wong, CBC https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/pandemic-learning-gap-1.5732441

Bravo PEI for changing the curriculum and focusing on what students need now, rather than preserving a previously mandated curriculum.

Humans tend to be blind to the paradigms we have chosen, and this is true for the paradigm of most publicly funded education – Every student should complete the same amount and type of learning each year (the mandated curriculum) regardless of their circumstances, learning style or ability; and students should be moved ahead into the next grade’s expectations regardless of their mastery.

The impact of Covid-19 on all students’ learning has brought into sharp relief the weakness of our current paradigm. Children learn in different ways, at different speeds, with different needs than our graded, one-size-fits-all system can easily handle. All students’ learning has been impacted by Covid-19, some more than others. We need a system that allows and encourages teachers to provide what each of their students’ needs now, rather than focussing on what they will be graded on as a group. We need a system that values mastery of skill over percentages on a report card. We need a system that takes each individual student where they are, provides the support they need to master the next step on their educational journey, and validates that journey. We need this now and we should keep it for the future.

The statistics may show that, “The scores that we measure early on are extremely correlated with what happens later on in life,” as Catherine Haeck has said in this CBC article, but it is more than possible that this correlation is a measurement of the system itself rather than what is possible for our learners.

There is another way. I’ve seen it in action. Bravo to PEI for moving in this direction.