Pump up MUN education

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Dear editor,
Universities should not be teaching the basics.

Not so long ago it became apparent that high school students from our province’s school system were unable to make the grade in university level math courses.

This forced MUN to hold math qualification tests for first-year students and make remedial courses available to allow students to bring their qualifications up to par.

More recently, we are being told that MUN students could not locate Ireland or Africa on test maps — in fact, some could not locate the Atlantic Ocean despite the fact that many of them grew up in areas where they saw the Atlantic from the windows of their homes daily.

Again, a professor at MUN is attempting to teach basic geography to her students.

Basic writing skills also poor

A marked difficulty with being able to write an intelligible piece of text is another issue that is far too prominent in today’s young adults, as is witnessed by the requirement for the Writing Centre at MUN to help undergrads with their written assignments.

Teaching elementary and high school math, geography and English is not, and should not be, MUN’s responsibility.

It is the responsibility of our school system through its teaching methods and curriculum.

One is left to strongly question the wisdom of “advances” in the educational system in our schools.

Having experienced the ludicrous imposition of the “new math” in junior high in the 1960s, which severely impaired the math skills of many (myself included) as but one example, the wisdom of these “advances” is very much up for debate in my opinion.

Spelling lost, too

Flash ahead to the early 1990s when, while attending a parent’s night with our elementary aged children’s teachers, we became aware that not only was spelling not on the curriculum, but teachers were expressly ordered that it not be taught.

Thankfully, teachers were employing their own techniques to, in fact, teach some spelling surreptitiously, using the same texts that I had used 30-plus years earlier.

Now, in addition to all of this, students are advanced to the next level regardless of academic achievement and giving “zeros” for non-performance is a no-no. Right. Just like in the real world.

All of this leads me to question whether professional development days and teacher workshops, etc., are worthwhile.

Is teaching, in fact, something that really needs to be or should be upgraded?

It may well be that a return to the old methods of teaching might be in order, with just the information being taught by the teachers upgraded as new knowledge emerges.

I am finding it difficult to avoid the conclusion that, having graduated high school in 1972, my education was far superior to what our students are getting in the school system today, even with “clock arithmetic.” We are betraying the students in our school systems.

 Marvin Barnes

St. John’s

Organizations: Writing Centre

Geographic location: Ireland, Africa, Atlantic Ocean

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