Monday, December 6, 2010

A happy face on your report card? A sitcom wades into the Québec school reform debate

We're all familiar with the well-worn criticisms of progressive school reform. It's "soft", it's written in "eduspeak", and it's ineffective. But when this kind of criticism makes it into popular culture, you know that it's having a significant impact.

In the clip below (which is subtitled), two major components of the Québec comprehensive school reform are targeted: non-percentage based report cards and cross-curricular competencies. Cross-curricular competencies are simply skills that are acquired across a range of subjects (e.g. critical thinking, problem solving), but the term itself ("compétences transversales" in French) has been surprisingly controversial, as the clip reveals... 

I'm still uncertain about why, exactly, cross-curricular competencies have received so much criticism. It's not as if the idea is particularly difficult to articulate or to understand, and goals like problem solving and critical thinking are uncontroversial. Percentage-based report cards, on the other hand, are part of people's established picture of how school is supposed to be, and so resistance here is less surprising.

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