This year the Telethon for ARS Armenian Private school was broadcast on Feb 25th and yesterday March 4th, on Armenian T.V program of Toronto. This is a yearly program to raise funds for the school.
The Telethon is a major undertaking and involves hundreds of dedicated parents and volunteers who spent hours and hours of their precious time to prepare and broadcast the program. Thank you all. Վարձքերնիդ կատար.
The program included many reports on the growth and progress of the school during the past ten years. The application of new technology in the class room is getting more updated every year. If the budget and per student cost is of any indication, the school is probably the least expensive and most efficiently run private school in Ontario.
This is made possible with the help of hundreds of volunteers who dedicate their precious time to the school and through community support as well.
One of the reports included the selective courses for ARS Lapoyan High School that has increased from 12 selective courses in 2006/7 school year to 40 selective courses in 2016/17 school year. Here is the breakdown of the selective courses.
Armenian Language 1. Arts 2. Business studies 6. Mathematics 7. Science 4. Computer studies 3. English 5. French 2. Canadian and world studies 9. Social Science 4. Health and physical education 2. Guidance and career education 1.
My first reaction was one Armenian language course only?, and selective one too?.
Although I knew that, by the requirements of the Ministry of Education, the Armenian courses are gradually reduced from 7 to 3 classes per week at the High School level, but I did not know that, these 3 courses were also selective ones as well.
I was a member of the first generation who built and started the school. As a parent, I was also closely involved in School’ activities for at least during its first ten years. My children were among the first to register and among the first and second year graduating class of the school at grade 8. (Grade 9 to 12 were added one class per year starting around school year 2001/2002).
The first generation that built the school were all graduates from Armenian Schools in Middle Eastern countries and established the school on the concept and the model of same schools. The Armenian curriculum was our main concern and it was basically “imported” from Middle Eastern Armenian schools.
The Canadian curriculum was “ready made” by the Ministry of Education of Ontario and its implementation was trusted to our first well qualified Canadian teachers, Mrs Silverman and Mrs Dalton.
Now it is the second/third? generation who is managing the school and their priority naturally is different. I might add it is even in reverse order. First priority is the Canadian curriculum, and the Armenian curriculum is secondary at best. This too, might be natural. (To day, majority of parents are graduates from Canadian Public Schools).
What is unusual is that, unlike the Ministry of Education of Ontario’ periodical reviews of its curriculum, the Armenian curriculum does not have such a process. It does not have even an Armenian Curriculum Review Comity. There should be one and it must be a permanent one as well.
The Review Comity must be composed mostly by parents and specialized teachers who teach English as second language (ESL) for children, or teachers at the Elementary French Immersion Schools. (French Immersion Schools are for the students whose parents do not speak french at home).
The “good old” way is not the right way any more, if ever. More over the “good old” ways were absolute and dead long time ago and my generation was more than concerned about it and had long discussions about improving it. We were fortunate at the time to be able to do something about it too.
(We managed to secure a large grant from the government to publish Armenian Text Books. We had few focused group meetings with professor Shake Minassian of Montreal, and accordingly, she prepared a series of Armenian text books Հայերէնի Գիրքս. I have copies of books 3, 4, 5).
The colorful books were intended to be the only Armenian books that students needed to learn and comprehend the Armenian Language, History, Culture and Traditions. The books also included a Dictionary of about 1000 commonly spoken Armenian words.
(Prof. Minassian was a graduate of Nshan Palanjian Jemaran in Beirut Lebanon. She had a PHD degree from Sorbonne University in Paris. At the time she was a professor in one of Montreal’ Universities. She had been a very active member of the Armenian communities of France and Lebanon prior coming to Montreal.
By now these books probably are absolute too. (Nostalgia aside, a quick glance through the colorful book for grade 5, indicates it is more up to date than some of the Grade 5 Armenian book(s) that my grand daughter is using at grade 5).
I also think that, the concept of one single book for the Armenian Curriculum is still valid. Today, with advanced technology, maybe I pads will be more practical and useful tools than the books. In short, it is time to make major changes to the Armenian curriculum. It is long overdue. For that maybe next.
Zohrab Bebo Sarkissian
per the requirements of the Ministry of Education and at High School level there were only 3 Armenian classes only per week but did not know the were in the selective category as well.