Teach Us About Ourselves, Ask Canadian Students

About seven out of ten students in the Toronto School District of Canada are not of white European background, they come from all parts of the world to schools which ignore who they are as people. In one of the most comprehensive studies ever done by a school district, the Toronto school board asked every student in grades 7-12 to complete an intensive survey regarding their feelings and views of going to school. The anonymous nature of the survey enables young people to feel free to express their views. Many reported never learning anything about their own place of origin or about the nations of Asia from which many come. The survey revealed many interesting pieces of data such as that only 56% ate breakfast or that 35% say home distractions impact their ability to do homework. Despite some concerns about school safety the overwhelming majority said they got along well with peers and did not really encounter physical threats to their being.

The school board is following up the survey with open forums for students which allow them to express their ideas in a public meeting. The Toronto School district should be complimented on their willingness to engage students in dialogue and to make known their ability to listen to students. It is more common for adults to “talk to” young people rather than actually engaging in active listening.