Editorial News

Stopped in my tracks

Last week I wrote my editorial about the province’s plan to update its health and physical education curriculum to include topics like sexual consent, healthy relationships, and gender equality by September 2015.

I stand behind my opinion that Premier Kathleen Wynne has made the right choice to direct the Ministry of Education to update the curriculum.

What I failed to acknowledge, and what one of our readers pointed out, is that “the curriculum is a guide which is broken into large ‘strands’ that ensures major topics are explored.” In other words, just because the curriculum is going to be updated to include these topics, doesn’t mean teachers and other school staff aren’t already dealing with them and all kinds of other serious topics already.

“Curriculum guides do not share specific information that is followed page by page, but it is a huge misconception that many that are not in the education system believe,” Rhonda Beckman expressed on The Northern Sun News Facebook page. “These topics are being discussed in more than just phys ed class, by concerned teachers that want the best for their students. And as a teacher we are always open to receiving more, up to date information. I just don’t want people thinking the conversation isn’t happening because of old curriculum guides.”

I’ve realized that my editorial insinuated that all teachers follow the curriculum to the book, or that they should, but they don’t, nor should they. Some of the best teachers out there are the ones that are able to cover the topics that they’re expected to, while also being spontaneous, drawing from their own life experience, and encouraging their students to think outside the box.

There’s so much more to be being a teacher than just teaching. The really good ones end up becoming mental health leads, support systems, role models, and friends to their students, yet I don’t think that they get the recognition they deserve for putting in so much more than what is outlined in the curriculum. I know for myself there are three teachers in particular (still teaching in the area too) that had a huge positive impact on my life and my career choice and I’m not even sure they know it.

I’ve also realized how easy and commonplace it is for one to stand on the outside and make assumptions about how a job is done on the inside. I know because I deal with this at the newspaper all the time. On a regular basis someone asks me: “Can’t you add extra pages or more colour pages to the newspaper? Can’t you make changes to my ad after deadline? Can’t you quote anonymous sources?” But it’s just not that simple. If you ever want to come in and talk about it in person, though, please feel free. I will make time for you.

And don’t we hear other examples of this all the time in our little community:

Why can’t the snow plows get to my street quicker?

Why can’t my doctor show up on time for my appointment?

Why does (Business X) charge so much?

Why hasn’t the server taken my order yet?

I mean, I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. At the age of about six, I told my mom that I wanted to become a pharmacist because all they did all day was tell people, “Come back in 15 minutes.”

But I’m sure if anyone in public works, health care, business, or the service industry (or any other industry for that matter) could sit down with you, they’d tell you the same thing: It’s just not that simple.

I thank Rhonda for stopping me in my tracks and making me think, and I welcome any of our readers to do the same: lindsay@thenorthernsun.com, (807) 727-2888, 200 Howey St., Red Lake.

Lindsay Briscoe

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