The Connexions Annual:
Introduction to Education, Children
Although we like to think of ourselves as a society
that cares deeply for children and protects them from harm, children
are by no means immune to society's problems. Sometimes, in fact,
they face problems that are worse than those faced by most adults.
In Canada, children make up the largest group of poor people. More
than one million children -- about one in six -- are growing up
in poverty. In the poorest countries, they die in shocking numbers
from malnutrition and disease. Children suffer from family breakdown
and family violence; some are victims of sexual abuse. Certain environmental
hazards, such as lead pollution, are especially harmful to children.
Good day care for the children of working parents is in critically
Native children, especially, have often been treated appallingly:
removed from their communities, separated from their families, forbidden
to speak their own language. While the worst of these abuses have
now ended, the effects will be felt for many years.
The school system often fails children. Children from working class
and non-white backgrounds are disproportionately streamed into dead-end
courses, and are much less likely to make it into university. (As
governments cut university funding and tuition fees rise, this problem
will worsen.) Many students leave school -- even as high school
graduates -- unable, or barely able, to read. Few are really challenged
by their schools, few receive encouragement for, or training in,
thinking and reading critically.
Yet work is being done to improve the situation of children. There
are groups pressing for more and better day care, organizations
protecting the interests of children in the justice system, alternative
schools trying to improve on the education system's offerings. One
positive trend has been the development of school textbooks which
avoid the old stereotypes of race and sex, to provide students with
a more authentic picture of Canadian society.
Education is by no means confined to the school system, nor to children
and youth. Indeed, adult education is one of the `growth industries'
of our time (and one that is far more environmentally benign than
many other `growth industries').
Especially vital are the literacy and English As A Second Language
movements. They are tackling crucial problems which are responsible
for keeping many Canadians, especially immigrants and the poor,
out of the social mainstream. They have been leaders, too, in developing
reading materials that actually deal with the lives an problems
of the learners, and in involving the learners themselves in helping
to create those materials. As a result, such programs have become
catalysts for awakening a wider social awareness among people often
not reached by other institutions and organizations.
Indeed, education is being seen as an essential element of grassroots
development both in Canada and abroad. The guiding idea is that
education is not merely concerned with imparting knowledge, but
with helping people develop the skills and the confidence to analyse
and solve problems and thus to act, both individually and collectively.
Because education is about how people see and respond to the world,
education has also been identified as a priority by a wide range
of organizations concerned with many different issues. Many groups
concerned with peace, anti-racism, the workplace, or gender equality
see education as a key to moving forward.
Contact information for Ulli Diemer:
Aussi disponible en français: L'Annuel
Connexions: Introduction sur l'Éducation et les Enfants
También disponible en español: El
Anuario de Conexiones: Introducción a la Educación,
Other Overview Articles from the Connexions Annual:
to the Connexions Annual
to the Arts, Media, Culture section of the Connexions Annual
to the Community, Urban, Housing section of the Connexions Annual
to the Development, International section of the Connexions Annual
to the Economy, Poverty, Work section of the Connexions Annual
to the Education, Children section of the Connexions Annual
to the Environment, Land Use, Rural section of the Connexions Annual
to the Health section of the Connexions Annual
to the Human Rights, Civil Liberties section of the Connexions Annual
to the Lesbians, Gays section of the Connexions Annual
to the Native Peoples section of the Connexions Annual
to the Peace section of the Connexions Annual
to the Women section of the Connexions Annual
and Reading List from the Connexions Annual
Other Resources and Links:
Online: Selected Education & Children Links
Links - Connexions
Directory A-Z Index - Connexions
& Broadcasters Online - Volunteer
Opportunities - Publicity
& media relations resources