Monday, August 18, 2014

Canadian Schools Should be like American Restaurants

I just returned yesterday from a 3-week vacation in the United States. I had a wonderful time relaxing, visiting relatives, enjoying the weather, and eating. Boy, did we eat! Below is a list of all the different places where we dined.

  • TGI Friday
  • Busy Bee Snowballs
  • McDonalds
  • Casa Mia
  • Yogi Castle
  • Friendly's
  • Burger King
  • Tutti Frutti
  • Bob Evans
  • Pizza Hut
  • Red Brick
  • Dumser's
  • Dairy Queen
  • Pisano's 
  • The Joint
  • Sweet Frog
  • Phillip's
  • Breezy Point Seafood
  • Hardee's
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken
  • Olive Garden
  • Looney's Pub
  • Applebee's
  • Dunkin Donuts
  • Don Pablo
  • Della Rosa
I was trying to decide what education topic I should explore for today. I could have written about the American school system, as my mother-in-law and sister-in-law are both teachers and I visited their classrooms briefly as they prepared for their upcoming school year. (They start earlier than we do.) However, as that list above is evident, I spent a lot more time filling my face than I did scoping out schools, so it'd make more sense to give this sort of report. Another reason to avoid comparing the Canadian and American school systems: I'd hate to look like I'm dissing my in-laws or their employers (even though Canada does score higher on PISA tests than its southern neighbours and often outranks it ). 

Don't get thrown off by my title; it is slightly tongue-in-cheek (or tongue-licking-lips). I think Canadian schools should be more like American restaurants because of ...

1) Super-Friendly Customer Service

I was really astounded by how cheerful and exuberant our waiters and waitresses were while we were in Maryland. The cashier at Burger King sang game show theme songs to us. The server at Olive Garden chatted at length about her trip to Vancouver, complimenting us on our wonderful country. Our TGI Friday employee was uber-attentive, guided us to the best deals on the menu and discussed football and baseball with us. The majority of the Maryland restaurant workers we encountered were chatty and outgoing, and they also work hard for their tips. (It seems to me that Americans tip better than Canadians - but I could be wrong.) In Canadian education, we teachers should strive to be as friendly, approachable, and cheerful.

2) Provide Great Quantity and Quality

Thank you Casa Mia for these crab cakes!
I must have gained quite a bit of weight while on holiday. The portions were huge! Maryland is well-known for its crabs, and I feasted on crab cakes quite often while I was there, including ones that were the size of my fist! These meals filled my tummy and provided me with great leftovers the next day. In Canadian education, we should continue to fill the heads of our students with great quantity and quality of knowledge. When our students leave the class, they should be satisfied, but also hunger for more.

3) Offer a Variety of Choices

The Sunshine Skillet - yum!
Toronto is much more multicultural than Baltimore, but the restaurants did give some new taste sensations to me. When I got my Bob Evans breakfast, I didn't realize gravy could be white! Even "specialty" restaurants had such large menus that it took a while to decide what delicious meal to choose. When it comes to serve-yourself frozen yogurt, we have one main chain I'm aware of (Menchies), whereas there are many more in the U.S. In Canadian education, we should share a large menu of options, from different ways to learn to different ways to present findings to different topics of study. 

4) Be Open As Late and As Early as you Can

Even tastier than it looks, from Breezy Pt.
I know that Canadian restaurants have good hours and tasty food. My dear friend Diana Hong has made it her summer goal to investigate where the best Eggs Benedict can be bought in Toronto. I guess, because we were eating out A LOT, I tended to notice it more in Baltimore. (Plus, I just wanted an excuse to include a photo of the most delicious grilled salmon and grilled zucchini I had at a tiny little place near my mother-in-law's house.) In Canadian education, this translates to keeping our libraries open during recess, before and after school as much as possible, so that we can serve our clientele when they want it. 

I didn't post a lot of Twitter posts while away because I took to heart the Internet safety advice not to advertise that I was away from home and I tried to disconnect from my computer (another possible blog topic for the future). Hope this gives you a visual hint of how good of a time I had. I'm glad to be back in my "home and native land" and plan on working off all that good Yankee feasting that remains on my waistline. 


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