Monthly Archives: November 2015

Is It Time To Replace Teachers With Technology?

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I’m done.  I’m fed up.  I’ve had enough.

Yes, there are bigger problems in the world, but if our planet has a future, education has to be a critical cornerstone for its survival.

We have to declare a war on ignorance.

Good education is a vital first step.

In Ontario, elementary teachers have been the on a ‘work to rule’ campaign (using ‘work’ loosely here, as most teachers aren’t working at all) for basically a year.  I’ve witnessed a much lengthier dedication to laziness, but I’ll keep that out for now.

I used to be on their side.  I cared about teachers.  I’d suggest that they have to take care of our kids while the rest of us are out earning incomes.

Now, it just seems like we’re toiling away earning their very posh and lush salaries, extended vacation breaks, ‘PD days’, sick leave, pensions and other benefits that are the envy of the vast majority of the world.

In other words, we work so they don’t have to.

So, in my view, public school teaching as we know it should come to an end.

I live in Ontario and I’m a parent of one child.  He’s made it to Grade 6 with us asking a few questions, but now that he’s almost through the elementary program, so am I.

I am asking the questions now, starting with the most basic:  ‘why can’t I expect a decent education for my child?’

I am fed up with the attitude of teachers.  Kathleen Wynne is right to hold the line with teachers and not cave to their demands for even more from the Ontario public.

I think we should go a step further:  let’s start replacing teachers with technology and move Ontario into the future.

Some good old competition would smarten these people up and finally force them to accept that they can’t keep using our kids as weapons in their war against good financial management.

Our kids have already grown up with screens.  Why should their classrooms be any different?

I propose that we use a publicly-owned broadcaster (eg. TVO) and convert part of it to a massive recording studio for class curricula.  All recordings would be available to all parents, available for online discussion and chat, sample tests, feedback and student participation, private or public.

The recordings would be slick, entertaining and top-dollar.  They could include celebrities, animation and interactive game elements instead of photocopied pages from 1970s manuals on how to bore your students.

Imagine a mashup of a MOOC and Facebook.

And then, we kick it up another notch by firing the lot of the teachers and replacing them with younger apprentices or tutorial assistants that are fulfilling part of their university education at a fraction of the cost as part of class supervision.

Imagine the billions in savings we’d have EVERY SINGLE YEAR.  We’d be the wealthiest jurisdiction in the world and our kids would be all the better for it.

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Read it and weep: full text of TPP

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The full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership has been revealed.

How badly will Canada lose out as a result of this deal?

VERY badly.

More details to follow, but enjoy this light read and weep for our future.

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Day One.

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It’s been a LONG time since I’ve felt such an overwhelming sense of naive optimism.

The crushing oppression and emotional heartbreak that came to the world on September 11, 2001 seemed to survive through the first decade of global politics and stifled any sense of joy to be had with the future of human kind.

Shortly after that momentous occasion, I wanted to write something called ‘Day One’.  It was to have been an open look at what could be after such an incredible gut-wrenching disaster.  I tried to imagine a world without George Bush, invasions of countries in the Middle East and elsewhere, an end to justification of tracking the activities of everyone around the globe and the suppression of an ever-blossoming budget on military, surveillance, mercenary hires and control of our lives.

What would have happened if we spent that money on solving the world’s problems, going green and ending the strangle-hold that oil, military spending and corporations have on our lives?

Despite the effort to see the ‘glass half full’, my sense of dread persisted concerning the Canadian political climate.  ‘Old stock Canada’ didn’t seem ready to accept that the world is capable of change and shoved its head further into the sand to ignore and obfuscate what we as a species must do if we’re going to survive the coming decades of climate change, war, violence, racism and fear.

Canadians took much longer to change after the Bush years and we still have a LOT to do.

It’s been the essence of inspiration for most of my blogging over the last ten years.  I feel like the rebels after blowing up the Death Star or Batman losing the Joker.

Today’s swearing in of our 23rd Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has opened up a new sense of (again, naive) optimism for Canada and our place in the world and, more importantly, our ability to influence and shape the direction we take.

So … today is ‘Day One’ for me.  I’m feeling more light, more joyous and more receptive to change and hope than I have in a very long time and I have Canada to thank for it.

Justin Trudeau’s simple response to the obtuse question about female cabinet appointments – coming from a female news reporter – reinforced my new-found sense of appreciation for what has happened.

‘It’s 2015’, he said calmly, as if to say ‘Duh.  Half the audience out there is female and we’re moving forward and why are you even asking such a question’.

I would love to go on, but this isn’t a JT love-fest.  It’s just a simple admission that I feel better.  I feel relieved.  I feel optimistic.

Don’t take that away from me, OK?

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