Students face growing problems, says PEITF convention speaker

Ryan Ross
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P.E.I. Teachers' Federation president Gilles Arsenault, left, talks to Jeffrey Wilhelm before the latter's keynote speech at the federation's annual convention Thursday.

The problems kids face are growing and it's up to educators to teach them with a sense of urgency for problem solving, says the keynote speaker at this P.E.I. Teachers' Federation convention.

Jeffrey Wilhelm, an education professor at Boise State University, said things have changed and children face issues that are global.

"The yardstick of success is no longer proven by national standards, but the best performing education systems globally leading to flexible individual achievement in a radically changing world," he said.

Wilhelm was one of the first speakers at the annual convention that sees teachers from across the province gather in Charlottetown for two days of professional development sessions.

His background includes authoring or co-authoring 24 books about literacy and literacy education.

Wilhelm is also the founding director of the Boise State Writing Project that supports more than 1,000 teachers every year with professional development.

During his speech, Wilhelm said he thought educators were aiming too low when it comes to education.

"When we're not we're under articulating what it is we're doing," he said.

Wilhelm said his research looked at changing curriculum as a problem to be solved so kids will be engaged in thinking the way scientists, mathematicians or other people do to solve problems.

That research turned into what he called a study of wisdom because every teacher he studied was teaching for something bigger, he said.

"Every one of them professed that teaching is relational, that it occurs in a relationship between a teacher and her students and between the students themselves."

Wilhelm also said there is a relationship between the students and the material they are learning.

He ended his speech by saying the tragedy of education is that it could easily be different and better for everyone.

"Even under current constraints," he said.

Wilhelm said P.E.I. has very good standards, but it's a matter of how they will be implemented.

"That's where the rubber hits the road and that's where you (teachers) make things happen," he said.

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

twitter.com/ryanrross

Organizations: Boise State University

Geographic location: Charlottetown

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  • Moe
    October 13, 2012 - 17:47

    The problem our students have is that our teachers can`t go a month straight putting in 5 day weeks. The first day of school was a so called PD day. What a joke.

  • HMMM
    October 12, 2012 - 09:12

    Well put Ken. When is the PEITF going to stop wasting money on self promoting rubber chicken circuit speakers like this who are flown in from the States or Ontario to lecture Island educators about how inadequate our educational system is. The only inadequacy in my mind is a lack of discipline and accountability among a growing number of students, particularly in the secondary schools where they should be getting prepared for post secondary study but where some are no where near being ready. And the post secondary institutions are pointing their fingers at the high schools as the cause of this.

  • Waste of intelligence.
    October 12, 2012 - 08:59

    Does anyone see the irony in Wilhelm's presentation? If you want to see what not learning looks like, go to the Teacher's Convention. Then, sit at the front of the room and look at the teacher's eyes; it's scary. It seems the old "sit and get" - "you listen, I talk" learning style is alive and well . . . or at least, dead as ever. We put hundreds of educated, intelligent, skillful people in a room and ask them to sit and listen? Imagine what could be learned if these two days were used to exchange what they have learned in their practice? But we don't. What a waste. I hope the convention is not a model that is reproduced in our children's classrooms!

  • What are the adults teaching our kids?
    October 12, 2012 - 07:47

    Not sure what could possibly challenge our young people more than apathy; and it's not their fault. Look at that Plan B thing - what does that teach our kids? It teaches them that power matters, that government won't listen to people or reason. It teaches them to hang their heads and play the game. Unless our school somehow start to teach kids how to challenge authority - in a meaningful and productive manner - we're all going to live with the results, and it won't be pretty.

  • ken
    October 12, 2012 - 07:19

    "Every one of them professed that teaching is relational, that it occurs in a relationship between a teacher and her students and between the students themselves." Wilhelm also said there is a relationship between the students and the material they are learning. Did this highly paid consultant have anything more informative and less cliched to say ? Of course there is a relationship between the teachers and students and between students, and to the texts and material being used, otherwise why are they at a school ? I hope his many books are not filled with this kind of drivel but have something more meaningful to say otherwise the best thing from him would be the sound of the "rubber hitting the road" as his taxi takes him to the airport to return him to his ivory tower.

  • Frank Murphy
    October 12, 2012 - 06:16

    "Aiming too Low" Some younger students need to being given a trial period in the next level as they finish their assignments early and become bored waiting for the rest of the class to catch up!