Private Schools, Boys and ADHD

There has been a developing trend in North American education, whereby despite occupying a majority in several specialized programs (like STEM), in a general sense male students are lagging behind their female peers: around 60 per cent of university populations are female, and in school girls perform better than boys on standardized tests. In attempting to explain these developments, researchers are pointing towards two issues that seem diametrically opposed: the misdiagnosis of ADHD in students and the very high rates of ADHD diagnoses for boys.

Some symptoms of ADHD in children include trouble keeping still, excessive daydreaming, difficulty sleeping, and copious activity. In a traditional learning environment—where students are expected to remain seated and focused on a single activity for long periods of time—ADHD is often misdiagnosed as a learning disability in boys when they fail to perform well on assignments. ADHD is not a learning disability, though it does affect learning. On the other side of the coin, there is a proliferation of ADHD diagnoses in boys when in reality most boys are simply kinetic learners (which more and more educators are realizing the need to recognize). Kinesthetic learning provides a constructive outlet for pent-up physical energy by providing a more hands-on learning approach, but it is most often associated with PE class. Research has also shown that concept-based learning—tackling multiple concepts within a lesson instead of maintaining a steady uninterrupted stream of unchanging verbiage—can also maintain a child’s focus and direct their attention.

While the correct diagnosis of medical neurobiological disorders is an issue that falls outside the purview of my authority, I can contribute to the discussion on how private schools are helping both kinetic learners and ADHD students. St. Jude’s Academy specifically is equipped to engage male students who have been perfunctorily labeled as simply “hyperactive” by the public school system: we do not confine our students to desks, we let them move around. Our curriculum is designed to accommodate physical health and it also promotes student interactivity.

Private schools provide individualized learning and possess greater resources to help these students thrive. If any student begins to fall behind, they are not left behind. Thanks to small class sizes or small student-teacher ratios, teachers can come up with and implement a learning style for specific students that will allow them to demonstrate their true potential.

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WEF: 9 ways to make education fit for the 21st century

The following article was written by Paul Kruchoski (Policy adviser, US Department of State) and published by the World Economic Forum on Wednesday 20 July 2016 at https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/07/9-ways-to-make-education-fit-for-the-21st-century. Protected under their Terms of Service, it has been reproduced here in full for education and news purposes under the Creative Commons Public License.

“By 2040, many of the children born this year will be joining the workforce. The world they find will be very different from ours today. How we work and live will be shaped by artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, synthetic biology and many other emerging technologies. Education is key if we are to prepare students for the world of work, but are our education systems ready?

In this time of fast-paced digital change, also known as the fourth industrial revolution, we need innovative places of learning that can provide the next generation with the skills of the future.

This chart shows which countries are performing the best when it comes to pairing education with jobs in real life.

Continue reading WEF: 9 ways to make education fit for the 21st century

Learning From Finland’s School Model

Finland’s one-of-a-kind education system boasts international renown, and its successful school model needs to be replicated by other counties if we want the next generation to carry the world forward into the twenty-first century. Finland’s students routinely rank at the top of the prestigious PISA report (Program for International Student Assessment) for science and math performance. Finnish students also continue their education for longer than most, with a higher average advancing to graduate and professional schools. And the average Finnish student speaks 4 languages by the time they finish “upper secondary education”! But what brought about this success and how can the Ontario Ministry of Education emulate it?

Forty years ago Finland was a poor agrarian country, severely lagging behind other industrialized nations. With a powerful reimagining of its future and a sincere desire to catch up, Finnish leaders devised a complex multi-step program to solve their low GDP: creating education equality. The idea was to provide an advanced education of equal quality to all children in the country in order to bolster the economy. It has certainly been working, thanks to one of many important reasons: the teachers.

Finland has created a culture of deep appreciation and respect for education and its educators, which has helped its agenda enormously. In Finland, educators are highly regarded, and as a vocation teaching receives the same respect and prestige as lawyers and doctors. It also requires the same investment. All teachers, regardless of the grade they teach, have a Master’s Degree and represent the top 10% of students from their graduating year at teacher’s college. Each school classroom has up to 3 teachers on hand to support one-on-one mentoring in the classroom, and teachers are encouraged to practice and try out experimental teaching methods. “Didacticism” is often their motto.

The Finnish school system is clearly successful, and I won’t waste space here reiterating the many statistics which prove it is so. It’s enough to make a person wish they could send their kids to Finland for school. While that’s probably out of the question for obvious financial concerns, what you can consider doing until the Ontario Ministry of Education decides to adopt some of Finland’s excellent practices is to send your child to private school – especially an IB World school with an internationally standardized education.

Right now, this is the best option to compete with the success of Finnish students – academically and career wise. Private schools have guaranteed small class sizes, which helps reconstruct the one-on-one mentor relationship multiple Finnish teachers have created. Teachers at IB World schools have higher qualifications, having undergone additional testing to be certified as IB teachers. Private schools also provide a rigorous and competitive academic learning environment, which emulates the national culture of high regard for education. Finnish schools are famous for having an only 2% dropout rate, and Ontario private schools are known for their high rates of sending their students to top universities: usually with a 100% success rate for graduating classes!  

So until the day you can enrol your child in Finland’s highly enviable education system, look for a Mississauga private school to serve as an excellent substitute!

Have a great weekend.

– A.S.

Can I Afford Private School?

Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Continue reading.

There are many studies, many researchers, and many of my blog posts that attest to the plethora of benefits your child will glean from acquiring a private school education. However, while enrolling your child in private school may have become an important family goal, you may be wondering about the daunting financial aspect.

Allow me to dispel a resilient private school myth, that only the elite can afford an elite education. Not true. Twenty-first-century private schools do not resemble the demographics of private schools from the past. A 2007 Ontario report noted that only half of all private school families reported an annual income of over $120,000. Middle-class families are quickly becoming one of the largest cohorts enrolling at private schools across Ontario, and if they can do it, so can you.

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About IB and its Growing Popularity

This week I received a couple of email questions asking for an explanation about what the International Baccalaureate (IB) program is exactly, and I am pleased to oblige.

Parents looking for a private school in Ontario to enrol their children in will undoubtedly come across many confusing school affiliations: OFIS, SSAF, CIS Ontario, CAIS, and of course, the IB. The International Baccalaureate was founded in 1968 in Geneva, Switzerland. It is a non-profit educational foundation offering four highly respected programs of international education (the IB Diploma Program is the highest tier and most widely offered one). The IB is divided into these 4 programs in order to target specific age ranges and provide the appropriate education depending on the age of the child. These programs develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills needed to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world. Schools must be authorized by the IB organization to be able to offer any of the programs. Teachers must also be “IB certified” in order to teach IB courses. Some private schools offer the three main programs so that students receive an IB education all throughout their school lives before university, while some schools merely offer a few IB courses instead of the actual programs.

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Where Are the Readers?

Reading. It seems for time immemorial it has been the unifying pastime for peoples across the eons. Yet in our Digital Age, the fate of the physical book has been bemoaned, replaced by eReaders. But now it seems like the act of reading itself, regardless of the medium, is in trouble. A 2011 report from People for Education used data from the provincial Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) and shows that the percentage of children in grade 3 who report they “like to read” has dropped from 75% in 1998/99 to 50% in 2010/11. The number of students in grade 6 who “like to read” fell from 65% to 50% in the same time period. Only 21% of Ontario children in grade 3 reported that they read together with a parent or guardian “every day or almost every day”. Please see figure 1 below for an illustration of this worrying trend. Continue reading Where Are the Readers?