“Global Citizenship” and its Importance

For the few Ontario private schools that are certified International Baccalaureate World schools, one of their key identifying attributes is promoting and instilling the concept of “global citizenship” in their students for the benefit of the world and millennials themselves. But what exactly does it mean to be a global citizen and why has it become such an important part of the International Baccalaureate (IB)? I have often mentioned this concept, but today I am dedicating this post to its definition.

Fostering global citizenship is the third priority of the UN Secretary General’s Global Education First Initiative (GEFI). Their bona fide treatise on global citizenship has been reproduced in part here for your convenience:

“The world faces global challenges, which require global solutions. These interconnected global challenges call for far-reaching changes in how we think and act for the dignity of fellow human beings.

It is not enough for education to produce individuals who can read, write and count.

Education must be transformative and bring shared values to life. It must cultivate an active care for the world and for those with whom we share it. Education must also be relevant in answering the big questions of the day.

Education must fully assume its central role in helping people to forge more just, peaceful, tolerant and inclusive societies. It must give people the understanding, skills and values they need to cooperate in resolving the interconnected challenges of the 21st century.”

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Private Schools Offer More Choice

In Ontario, public schools have strict zoning rules dictating which children can attend the school. The only way parents can have any say in where their child attends public school is if they are willing to move to a different neighbourhood altogether so that they can access a particular public school. Some exceptions apply if a child is enrolled in a specialized program at a distant public school, but these are rare cases.

Mississauga private schools on the other hand do not implement geographical restrictions on their student population, so that anyone is free to attend regardless of their home location as long as they meet the admission requirements.

Without this essentially insurmountable restriction, parents are free to pick from a plethora of options for their child’s future. There are many different types of private schools: Montessori, faith schools, boarding schools, single gender schools, prep schools… Each private school boasts of different affiliations, and there are many private schools across the financial spectrum, from the more affordable to the big investments like Upper Canada College.

But there is no need to rule out private schools with higher annual fees. Most private schools have a financial assistance program in addition to scholarships and bursaries to help families enrol their children.  

So in conclusion, private schools provide more options for your child’s education. They do not limit attendance based on zoning rules, and offer many more learning models than traditional schooling, such as inquiry-based learning and concept-based learning. They come in all shapes and sizes, and offer many more programs in addition to the standard provincial curriculum.

New Skills for a New World

Private schools excel at providing the tools that allow students to cultivate twenty-first skills necessary for future success in the changing global job market. Please take a look at the two info graphics below. With our multidisciplinary approach as well as our inquiry– and content– based learning models, students at St. Jude’s Academy are provided with an advanced education imparting the most sought-after career skills, which are listed in Table 1. From complex problem solving to cognitive flexibility, our students graduate prepared for the Digital Age’s New World with a toolbox of skills that the traditional learning curriculum employed within Ontario’s public school system often does not provide. 

To cite the World Economic Forum (WEF): “work today is increasingly collaborative and focused on solving complex problems in creative ways. Work is also more trans-disciplinary than before: just look at how Google hired psychologists to help coders design fonts, and anthropologists to better understand how their users think and behave”. With an ever-changing job market and  an increased value placed on  creativity, students will capitalize from the innumerable benefits of a private school that helps them to be flexible, ingenious, and that also understands the challenges of the twenty-first century.  These highly desirable skills listed by the WEF are not so easily acquired: they demand rich, human interactions and regular practice. To become complex thinkers, manage relationships, and be emotionally intelligent, students need an institution to provide them with a teaching philosophy (like the whole child approach and SEL) committed to augmenting their education experience.

work blog list

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Why You Should Consider an IB School

St. Jude’s Academy (SJA) is one of the only full IB World Schools in the Peel Region in Mississauga. SJA offers the official IB World PYP, MYP, and DP programs, which represent a continuation of learning excellence from Junior Kindergarten to grade 12. These inquiry-based programs are internationally recognized and revered as one of the highest standards of teaching. The specially certified IB teaching staff encourages and supports children to become critical thinkers and lifelong learners through these series of interconnected, academically rigorous programs. Teachers provide stimulating learning experiences focused on the strengths and needs of individuals in order to help all students reach their full potential.

As an IB World school, SJA offers an international standardized education. I recognize that I have mentioned the value of a standardized education here on my blog before, but it is difficult for me to overemphasize its benefits! The Ontario education system, both private and public, does not offer the same level of standardized education as IB World schools which follow the highly successful Geneva model that was established in 1968. An IB DP diploma is automatically recognized by many prominent international universities  as a reputable high school degree representing the advanced education received. But besides carrying more weight for post-graduate success, a student receiving an IB World education will develop invaluable lifelong skills to become a world citizen of the twenty-first century. They are imbued with a sense of drive, purpose, and unlimited possibility for their role on the world stage. IB World students do not just received an excellent education… they become excited about their education! With the rise of chronic student absenteeism and learning apathy, inspiring students to take an interest in their education is no mean success, and motivates them to perform to the best of their ability. .

The same way it is so important for our global economy to have a standardized system of weights and measures and currencies, it is equally important to have a standardized education!

To read more, please check out my previous post on this topic.

Private Schools: A Solution to Absenteeism?

In the United States of America, 1 in 8 high school students are a chronic absentee. For a different perspective on this same issue, we could also say that 62,000 children miss class every day of the school year, either for legitimate reasons or because they are cutting class. Unfortunately there are no existing statistics relating to Canada specifically, but generally speaking our country also suffers from some level of chronic absenteeism as well. This is characterized as when a student misses 10% or one full calendar month of their school year for the purposes of simply skipping school. A student may skip school for a number of reasons, such as social anxiety, avoiding a bully, or due to bad habits with an aversion to learning and authority.

Once a student becomes an absentee, their future success immediately becomes at risk. They are more likely to fall behind in their classes, unable to catch up, and often become high school dropouts. The American Department of Education reports that absenteeism has even been tied to poverty, poor health, and criminal records later in life. Statistics Canada also reports that a student’s academic performance in high school is almost a perfect indicator for predicting exactly how they will perform at university, thus leading to their conclusion that the formation of good study habits in high school provides the bedrock for future habits and behaviour at university. The contrapositive of this fact, then, is that students skipping school will probably not fare well in university or at their jobs if they cannot kick this dangerous habit immediately. Attendance is a key factor in academic success.

There a few ways private schools can help overcome this complex issue. As Ms. Nelson mentions in her post, private schools deter bullying by having the freedom and authority to deal with bullies more stringently and effectively than public schools can with their red tape. The small classroom sizes at private schools also work to bolster teacher supervision, which keeps bullies in check, but also allows educators to be more aware of students missing from class. Reducing teacher oversight prevents students from falling between the cracks of the school system and turning into chronic absentees, which is more likely to happen in crowded public schools. At St. Jude’s Academy, the academic success and welfare of each and every student becomes our personal goal; and as an IB World school we impart a love of learning in our students by doing everything we can to help them achieve their aspirations for the future.

But what are your thoughts? What do you think the education system needs to do in order to stop more children from missing school so much?

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Why Do Parents Choose Private Schools?

As I mentioned in my popular Finland School post, there are no private schools in Finland. Miksi? Why? Because the country is so committed to national public education there is no need for private schools which cannot offer a better quality of schooling than what already exists. Ontario is not so fortunate. The proliferation of private schools in our province indicates that the public school education system—for a variety of reasons which I will not go into—is not able to deliver the quality of education parents want to provide for their children. And do not be misled by the rampant myth that only the elite take advantage of enrolling their kids: numerous surveys reveal that parents from all income, occupational, and educational groups send their children to private schools.

That is because Ontario parents are becoming disillusioned with our public school education system, especially after the massive teachers’ strike in 2015 which disrupted countless classrooms, cancelled extracurricular activities, and jeopardized students’ university applications when assignments ceased to be marked. Private school families will never have to worry about the threat of labour strife because of the nature of the institution and the private subsidization of teachers’ wages. In return, families also benefit from the following characteristics they report as having influenced their decision to make the switch to private school:

  • a safe environment for their children
  • dedicated teachers with additional certification (for IB World schools)
  • an emphasis on academic quality
  • a commitment to student success: no student left behind (only 85.5% of Ontario students graduated high school in 2015, a rate which has increased but according to  The Toronto Star only because we are devaluing the OSSD. An IB Diploma  can never be devalued)
  • no bureaucratic red tape interfering with innovation and lesson plans
  • private schools educate the “whole child” and develop student character

All of this helps to explain why there has been a significant growth of private school enrolment in the last two decades.

South Korea: A Study in Education

In keeping with my recent posts’ international bent, I would like to travel halfway across the world to take a look at South Korea’s education system and explain why it is so successful, as well as some of its shortcomings. I will address its unique features, and also identify how some schools in Canada already share similar characteristics. For my popular post on Finland’s School Model, please click here. In case you were wondering, the featured image of this post is the Korean Bell of Friendship in California.

As in Finland, teaching is a highly respected and desirable profession in South Korea. Their teachers receive competitive salaries and job stability, in return for acquiring rigorous academic credentials and professional qualifications. Due in part to South Korea’s complex job market, elementary teachers are from the top 5% of the high school academic cohort. The Korean government encourages teachers to undergo professional development throughout their careers by favoring candidates who receive additional certification with promises of promotion. This is in contrast to Ontario’s education system, whereby a candidate who graduates teachers college is considered “done”, having “finished” their qualifications. But continuing to receive training and professional development throughout their careers ensures that Korean teachers will never become complement at work, and instead adds new skills to their arsenal to adapt to our rapidly changing Digital Age. That is why I wanted St. Jude’s Academy to be an IB World school. In order to teach at St. Jude’s, our educators had to undergo additional training to become IB certified. This is to adhere to Switzerland’s strict international teaching standards, and to ensure the students will receive an international standardized education.

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