Immigration, Assimilation, Ethnicity and All That Jazz

Posts Tagged ‘high school’

Non-English Speaking Households and Education

Posted by chinesecanuck on February 10, 2009

Something I discovered which I find interesting:

Toronto high schools known primarily as academic institutions have more students which speak non-English languages at home than more “general” schools or schools with technical programs.  For example, 39% of students at North Toronto Collegiate Institute speak a language other than English at home.  However, at nearby Northern Secondary, a school which has a tehcnical program, only 24% speak another language.  Both schools serve relatively the same area.  Further into the city, we have Jarvis Collegiate and Central Tech.  At Jarvis, 74% speak another language at home, while only 56% of students at Central Tech do. 

According to profs I had in graduate school, the opposite would have been the case just a few decades ago.  Academic-based, public preparatory schools like Jarvis and North Toronto would have seen multi-generational middle to upper middle class, Anglo students, while the technical programs would have been in more blue collar, immigrant neighbourhoods (though Northern might be an exception – it’s also more “academic” than other technical schools, which is probably why it’s Northern SECONDARY rather than Northern TECH)

Readers, do you think this has to do with immigrants to Toronto and how they view education?  What’s it like in other cities?  Does it have to do with which countries immigrants come from?

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Province to Collect Data on Kids

Posted by chinesecanuck on May 1, 2008

In an article published in the Toronto Star’s Parent Central  site today, Ontario is apparently going to be collecting race data on elementary and high school students (the Toronto District School Board is already doing this), likely to close gaps between education standards.  According to the article, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Jamaican, Somali and aboriginal students are the most likely to drop out of school.  Is this a good idea?  Would collecting ethnicity (and it’s more ethnicity than race) information really better inform educators?  What about class?  In Toronto, at least, Vietnamese, Portuguese, etc are more likely to be from lower-income neighbourhoods.  Would it be more or less sensitive to track by the first three characters of one’s postal code?  Or would that only work in more urban areas (more people=more postal codes.  The City of Toronto, for example, has M__ ___ all to itself, while the first character in the surrounding Toronto suburbs is an L)?  In Toronto, even the first two characters can tell a lot.  M4 usually means that the schools in your area are excellent and that the high schools have a 90+% university matriculation rate. 

Also, why would collecting race help?  Do kids from different ethnicities really learn differently (I know that different cultures have different teaching philosophies, but it isn’t really the same thing – immigrant kids from China still excel when they come here)?  Why are Vietnamese kids dropping out at such a high rate, while students of other Asian cultures not?  Or is it parental influence?  Should they do a study on the amount of education the parents have?  Chances are, you’ll find that kids with parents who have at least a bachelor’s degree aren’t likely to drop out.

What do you think?

Posted in culture, education, ethnicity, minorities, social class | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Students at Religious Schools who are of Different Religions

Posted by chinesecanuck on April 24, 2008

As you’ve probably read in previous posts, high school was (and still is) affiliated with the Anglican Church of Canada. We had to go to regular services, regardless of what our faith.  Our services weren’t overtly religious, though hymns were sung, prayers said and Scripture read.  Parents send their kids to the school knowing that services are a part of the school’s culture, so they generally don’t have a problem with it.  The people who DO have issues are outsiders.  Some are even SHOCKED to hear that say, Muslim or Jewish parents would even think about sending their kid there.  They seem to think religion first, academics second. Is religion really more important than what the kid learns in school?  Except for two years of religious education in Grades 7 and 8, nothing outside of mandatory services is religious based.  Do people automatically think “religious school” as soon as they hear about mandatory services?  Just because a school has historical connections to a church doesn’t mean that it’s a true “religious school.”  Schools under the Roman Catholic school board are probably more religious than my alma mater, and these schools, at least the high schools aren’t really religious!  In fact, the school often has “talks” or presentations by students and staff who are of different faiths.  It was very normal for us.  In any case, many “traditional” private schools tend to have some sort of connection to a church.  Even those that don’t, such as Toronto’s Upper Canada College, still has a school hymn and/or prayer.  I guess people need to do their homework!

Posted in assimilation, culture, ethnicity, feminism, minorities, prayer, religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Phasing out middle schools?

Posted by chinesecanuck on April 18, 2008

Not really ethnic-related but interesting…

According to this Toronto Star article, the Toronto District School Board may be phasing out (some) middle schools and putting Grades 7 and 8 (and at times Grade 6) kids in elementary school. As someone who attended a public middle school for one year before moving on to a private school, I think going to a separate school for at least two years is a great idea. I think a half-rotation system, which was used for Grade 6 and 7 students (our homeroom teacher taught us “Core” subjects – English, math and social studies)…going from teacher to teacher, and having the use of “high school style” facilities of labs (rather than a standard classroom) gave me (and the other students) a larger variety of ways to learn hands-on. Doing labs with water from the fountain across the classroom is very different from having several sinks IN the classroom. And also, how would the teacher demonstrate the use of a Bunsen burner without gas taps?

Another thought: What about 7-12 schools? I know that most people are against it because they feel the older kids can be a bad influence on 12 year old Grade 7 students, but don’t they realize that many private schools have 7-12 “senior schools”/senior divisions? At some schools, the middle school aged kids have their own wing for most classes, but share other facilities like the gym, music, art and drama rooms and the cafeteria. At other schools, the students share all facilities. The middle school aged kids at private, university preparatory schools are no more influenced by older kids than kids who go to K-8 or middle/junior high schools.

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