Learning about educational issues from a variety of perspectives

*This post was written by Anna Dinissuk, a MEd student studying Developmental Psychology and Education.

Hi everybody! I hope that anybody reading this post is settling into 2017 well.

For this blog post, I’d like to share a bit about a course I’m taking this semester. It’s a graduate course in U of T’s School of Public Policy & Governance, taught by OISE Professor Michal Perlman. It’s called Public Policy for Children, & basically about how to make good policy decisions regarding children’s issues. I enrolled in the course because it seemed interesting & useful.

Professor Perlman takes the perspective that creating good policy & critically evaluating research happens best when you learn from a variety of different perspectives. Hence, she’s arranged for a variety of guests speakers to come & give guest lectures to the class.

The first guest lecturer was Michael Baker, a professor in the University of Toronto’s Department of Economics.

I come from a psychology background, & I enjoy things like writing poetry. I don’t like statistics or math so much. It was a bit challenging for me to make sense of Professor Baker’s guest lecture,  but I did the best I could.

The main idea I got from it is that governments have limited resources, & need to determine how to best allocate money towards community & social programs. That’s where policy makers come in; they critically evaluate research, & make targeted recommendations accordingly. It can be a bit depressing to realize that certain people won’t get government support or access to certain programs that could help them due to lack of funds/resources, but that’s life.

I also found it interesting that the marginal benefit of each additional year of education that a person receives is decreasing. This essentially means that everybody benefits from going to school up to secondary school, but that the benefits of post-secondary education are more mixed. Pursuing higher education essentially takes an individual out of the workforce, and this impacts their future earning potential- especially if said individual doesn’t pursue any type of part time or casual employment while in school.

Issues of education & how to best serve the people are complex, however, & should not be reduced to mere statistics & equations. It’s important to understand that social programs cost money, but that isn’t the only fact to consider. Professor Perlman has also arranged for experts from areas such as political science & children’s rights to give guest lectures. It will be interesting to learn from so many different perspectives, & I look forward to hearing the next guest speaker! ^_^

For anybody considering going to OISE, don’t be discouraged if you don’t have the typical background! Your perspective may be different from your potential classmates’, but that’s okay. Diversity, in its various forms, helps others learn. Susan, the other current OISE Student Ambassador for this academic year, comes from a STEM background & her perspective is definitely valuable. It’s likely very helpful for potential OISE students interested in teaching Science.