Ottawa·ELECTION 2018

The Fix: Different teaching styles for different students

With the Oct. 22 municipal election just around the corner, CBC Ottawa's All In A Day is collecting municipal gripes and seeking solutions.

Series shares voter concerns, from community housing to potholes

Dion "Stranger" Metcalfe told his story of how the city let him down at CBC All In A Day's election pop-up event. Event participants Mei-Lan Morton and Tricia Leduc responded afterward with their ideas for solutions. 7:22

With the Oct. 22 municipal election just around the corner, CBC Ottawa's All In A Day is collecting municipal gripes — and seeking solutions.

The show invited eight listeners to share stories about a specific time they've felt let down by the City of Ottawa or local school boards, from an over-proliferation of potholes to missing sidewalks at bus stops.

Their stories were gathered Oct. 3 at a pop-up community event called The Fix, hosted by CBC Radio's Alan Neal.

Dion "Stranger" Metcalfe said local schools need to do a better job of teaching students with different learning styles. He's worked as an educator with both the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health and the Ottawa Inuit Children's Centre

"The reason why I failed miserably in school is because teachers did not know how to teach me," he said. "School for me was boring."

Metcalfe said his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder was misunderstood.

"I was on the honour roll in grade school, but it was boring. I would much rather be outside or building something with my hands," he said. "I dropped out of high school eight separate times."

Metcalfe, who only obtained his high school diploma in the last few years, said he felt constant pressure to go to university and ignore other options.

"Different people learn in different ways, but we are not changing the way we are teaching," he said. "To me, the fix would be instead of breaking children up into classrooms by age, break them up by learning styles."

All In A Day is committed to pursuing solutions to all of the problems that have been identified as part of The Fix.

On Tuesday, each of the candidates in Zone 6 of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board were invited on the show to share how they would respond to Metcalfe's concerns.

Marty Carr

Stranger mentions that he was first let down in grade school.

We really need to acknowledge this gap and look at what we can do to add more educational assistants in the classroom to help these children that are falling through the cracks — staff that can go and give these kids a body break, whether it's shooting hoops or a brisk walk outside, to keep their brains going in a way that they respond to.

Schools have made advances acknowledging students need places to build and experience. We see more and more makerspaces, outdoor classrooms, sensory rooms, and we need to continue to make those spaces a priority.

A second point that I heard Stranger mention is that in high school university was pushed. We really need to dispel the notion that university is the only goal for students, and we really need to start career development earlier on.

One of the great programs that the OCDSB has is the specialist high school major program, where students can earn their diploma through experiential learning and career-relevant training in disciplines such as culinary arts.

We need to continue to build on those programs for students in secondary who respond better to experiential programming.

Chris Ellis

First let me say how sorry I am that the school system failed Stranger. I also want to acknowledge Stranger's resilience, strength and success. It is important to acknowledge that there are still young people not receiving the supports they need.

Funding from the province for special education does not meet the needs of the OCDSB. Just like the OCDSB, most school boards spend more on special education than the province provides.

To start to address this issue, we need more professional development of staff on special education, more learning support teachers to support classroom teachers and to directly work with students like stranger.

[We need] to catch student needs and meaningfully address those needs and to proactively and positively intervene with students when we see a high level of absenteeism.

All of these points I just made are being done to some extent, but in my opinion there are not enough resources to do them for every student.