‘Streaming’ (or ‘tracking as referred to in the U.S.) is a process of separating students based on academic ability into groups (high, medium, or low) for all or a few subjects. Much has been said about the advantages and the drawbacks of this practice. Recently, the hot button topic made it to the front pages again. The CBC described a recent report from People for Education suggesting that “asking Grade 8 students to choose between academic and applied courses in high school sets some students up for failure.” The report’s findings also make clear the socio-political nature of ‘streaming’: “students taking applied courses in Grade 9 were much less likely to go to university and that students from low-income groups were more likely to enrol in applied courses.”
To read the CBC article and the published People for Education report, click here:
There is an amazing documentary, Unsung: Behind the Glee, which chronicles the journey of two rival Toronto high school glee clubs as they gear up for a musical showdown at the annual Show Choir Canada National Championship.
This documentary is fascinating because
· it has incredible music and dance;
· shows the value of the arts in the lives of some adolescents;
· and clearly demonstrates the commitment of teachers.
Yes it is a competition (and many of the students are elite singers/dancers) but it is an inside look at the work and enthusiasm of teachers and students alike. For some students their involvement in music and dance literally “saved” them. For some of the teachers, their music/dance groups are like their family (they scold, praise, encourage, laugh, cry). There are powerful stories of kids overcoming huge adversity through their involvement in these musical groups.
Clive and I watched it last night and I was moved to tears. It is only available until January 27th so give yourself an hour (stop preparing for class or marking or doing housework ….) and watch it.
For those of you not in the arts (like me) it was very informative. For those of you in the arts you will probably relate to the stories and unfolding events. Whether students are elite or just enjoy music and dance (for appreciation), the arts have a very important place in the curriculum and should be well funded. The arts are not a frill but are part of the basics of life.