In Brief: Charles Cirtwill, AIMS acting President, says that more technology will not necessarily solve New Brunswick’s educational woes. In this article from the Telegraph Journal, Cirtwill comments on the province’s latest education plan. He notes that teachers who are well trained will succeed regardless of the technology they have or do not have.
The Shawn Graham government has earmarked $15 million to invest in new technologies and methods of teaching that it promises will enhance the student experience in New Brunswick.
“We have to find a way of teaching the upper grades that doesn’t involve sitting students in a chair memorizing the facts they’re told to,” Education Minister Kelly Lamrock said Tuesday. “They need to learn by doing, in a hands-on, student-directed way.”
The province’s two-year investment is designed to transform traditional methods of learning and allow teachers to flex their creative muscles to develop a new rubric of classroom instruction.
The Liberals will reward teachers who are successful with a total of $3 million for the next two years, Lamrock announced Tuesday at the Devon Middle School auditorium in Fredericton.
These teachers will then be encouraged to educate their colleagues across the province on their new teaching methods.
The new fund, under the government’s plan, will also see a minimum of $2 million invested for the next two years in new resources for students who are struggling in their academic programs, and for those who are well advanced in their studies.
The final component of the fund involves up to $5 million in spending on laptop computers next year. The laptops will be allocated to only those schools that draft the best proposals to support student-driven learning, cross-curricular studies and students with special needs.
The government promises it will also develop a multi-year plan to bring more technology into the province’s classrooms, including interactive whiteboards.
The province will announced Friday further details of the new technology and teaching fund, which officials expect will draw community and private sector contributions.
But the list of promises unveiled so far does not sit well with Charles Cirtwill.
The acting president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies said Tuesday new technology will not encourage a better learning environment.
“Those who are well trained are going to achieve regardless of the computers in the room,” he said. “Why would you ask a teacher who is succeeding to change the way they do things, and compel them to bring in technology they clearly don’t need in order to succeed?”
Indu Varma, president of the New Brunswick Teachers’ Association, said their ability to enhance the classroom experience is currently hampered by financial constraints.
While Varam said she looks forward to the results the province’s new teaching methods will produce, she is concerned that there won’t be enough funding to support them.
“Teachers are now limited by financial constraints in terms of what they can do with what is available for them to teach,” she said. “Teachers can only do so much. They have been teaching innovatively and creatively and they will continue to do so but what needs to happen is we need appropriate support programs and more funding, services and teachers.”