This is the
Classroom

Published by the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation

Talking and listening

Posted: 05/19/17 9:00am CST

I don’t know if you have ever noticed, but in order for there to be a fruitful conversation there needs to be two components: talking and listening.

One person or entity telling the other how it’s going to be does not qualify as a conversation-any classroom teacher will tell you this.

Sure it sounds simple enough, but it’s unfortunately just as simple to revert to the latter–especially if you surmise that you’re the one who has all the answers and knows what is best.

Should you have guessed that I’m referring to the current state of things in the PreK-12 education sector in the province, you win the prize.

Despite the fact that the word “consultation” frequently bubbles to the top, it seems more like lip service when you contemplate some of the quite substantive changes and new initiatives that have been introduced in recent times by the Ministry of Education, in particular.

Undeniably there are plenty of well-intentioned individuals with quite vast backgrounds in education sitting in the offices in Regina who, one would imagine, are surely being consulted by Minister Don Morgan and his folks right up to the Premier himself.

Yet all too often ignored in the overall process are teachers and the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation. It might be fair to assume that it could be simply because they have divergent views on some things that are coming at them at the speed of light these days.

One only has to consider the recent STF Annual Meeting of Council and the absence of Education Minister Don Morgan. All right, so the legislature was sitting and he’s a busy man these days as not only the Minister of Education, but also the Deputy Premier of a party that seems to be floundering on a daily basis recently.

Nevertheless, it should have been possible to make an appearance even though there was every chance it was going to be uncomfortable facing a room full of teachers. But, historically it’s pretty clear that the chance of being stoned by teachers is pretty slim. My guess is he would have garnered a measure of respect if he had been standing at the podium. Perhaps it goes back to the opening reality where there needs to be someone talking and someone listening.

Too often lately it seems more like directives than collaboratively reached decisions that characterize the sector. Nobody is denying that ultimately the decision will rest with the Minister. If that wasn’t clear enough before, you only have to contemplate Bill 63 as proof positive. But that doesn’t mean the other partners should be marginalized or ignored completely.

Agreement on some topics might just not be possible, but some form of compromise would not be outside the realm of possibility if these conversations took place in advance.

Take a look at a school playground and it’s pretty easy to see how much better things function when people work together and get along. Maybe certain adults need to consider this lesson. It is, after all, these same children that are supposedly everyone’s priority.

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