Last week author Pamela Proctor spoke at a rally at Charles Dickens Annex, the primary school in East Vancouver that she co-founded. With children involved in creative arts, co-operation, team work, and physical activity while mastering the basics, the innovative Dickens program drew world wide attention and was a foundation for the year 2000 primary curriculum. With the school now threatened with closure by government cuts, many parents and supporters rallied together with opposition politicians and school trustees to work on a plan save this treasured school.
For Proctor this was the kick off for her third province wide speaking tour. Speaking at more than a dozen events mostly in small towns where cuts are hitting the hardest, she is talking about what is best for young children's learning. Her message appeals to all who are interested in good outcomes for our children, as she talks about her own personal transition, from the lock-step teach test rank and fail approach, to a more facilitative style that engages each child's talents and natural interest in learning. Now that all day Kindergarten is getting started, Pamela’s practical experience is of even greater value
This month she will travel from her home in Gibsons to speak: in northern Vancouver Island communities, and from there to Prince Rupert at Rainforest Books, 624-4195, on Saturday 18th September at 7pm for a talk, discussion, and book signing.
This will also take place at the following locations:
- Sunday 19th at Terrace Public Library at 2pm - 638-6177
- Monday 20th at Kitimat Public Library at 7pm - 632-8982,
- Tuesday 21st at Misty River Books in Terrace at 4pm - 635-4428,
- Wednesday 22nd at Smithers Public Library at 7pm - 847-3043,
- Thursday 23rd at Houston Public Library at 7pm - 845-2256,
- Friday 24th at Burns Lake Public Library at 7pm - 692-3192,
- Saturday 26th at Fraser Lake Public Library at 2pm - 699-8888.
While well past retirement age, Proctor is continuing on her mission to share her experiences, as she has written so eloquently in her book Honouring the Child
To hear her interview on CBC's North by Northwest CLICK HERECRISIS IN EDUCATON: Impacts on the Health of Our Children by Pamela Proctor
Standardized testing is rampant throughout North America and Britain and it’s worrying. I know from my own experience that such tests are unhealthy and potentially downright dangerous. I applaud those who speak out and I offer these thoughts in support.
I know that when they feel pressure for children to do well on the tests, teachers find it necessary to focus on the 3 R’s for prolonged periods each day. Physical education, art, music and other creative activities take a back seat to academic work.
However, this is potentially harmful in terms of children’s physical, mental, emotional and social growth and health in the following ways.
Children are more sedentary, which affects their physical health. They sit for long periods with little physical activity, including quality physical education and playtime. As Dr. Judy Willis a neurologist, now a teacher, stated in Educational Leadership “when joy and comfort are replaced by homogeneity, students’ brains are distanced from effective information processing and long-term memory storage.” Spoon-fed and detached from the learning process, children are more likely to lose interest and learn less.
Emotional development is affected by the high stress of meeting requirements, compounded by the absence of play and creative activity. Children who struggle with tests that do not take into account individual differences in terms of learning styles and rates may become restless, insecure, discouraged or worse.
Lack of conversation, collaboration and cooperation in the classroom affects children’s social growth. Those who feel alienated are more likely to engage in anti-social behaviour. Negative feelings may form the basis for growth into adolescence possibly leading to gang formation, bullying and violence.
Rating, grading and comparing the public schools undermines the work of teachers and hurts students, particularly the most vulnerable. In order to have a healthy children and a healthy society, we need to honour all children by upholding holistic, child-centred practices in public schools, including instituting integrated assessment procedures.
In an article in the Vancouver Sun about the health and fitness of BC youth, Dr. Gary Pennington said “We need to challenge children, give them choice, help them set goals and to do their best, valuing and nurturing their play. Willis says, “There is a need for the school to become a place where the imagination and spirits of the children are embraced.”
To address what I see as a crisis in education, I have reinforced those thoughts by writing and speaking throughout British Columbia to encourage the positive changes that are described in my book, Honouring the Child
. Reference: Willis, Judy, MD, M.Ed. “The Neuroscience of Joyful Education”
Educational Leadership, 2007.