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Education styles – Part 2 – My take on the Canadian Education

Updated: Mar 31, 2022

January 20th, 2021

Nikolas Zetouni


If you haven’t read my first article, I suggest you click here and read it.

After getting my education from K to BSc in Brazil, I worked 8 years as a biology teacher and had the pleasure to found and run my own high school from 2009 to 2012. At that time, I felt I hit a dead end in my career and decided to pursue more education in another field I am very passionate about – medical sciences. My quest was to go abroad, and Canada welcomed me with open arms and a whole new world of learning.

Understanding the Individualistic Culture

While in Canada, I took a MSc, a college degree and worked in private and public schools through Coded Minds. My educational expectations here were high, after all, North America education is considered top notch from where I came from. My MSc lab used the latest technology, the college was well structured and schools around pretty impressive! But… my research group was too clustered, college peers were very distant and education on schools too tailored. That is when it hit me. The culture in Canada is Individualistic. Meaning, the good of the person is more important than the group. From my experience, being different and focusing in your own things is totally fine here, and that was an amazing learning experience for me. What have I learned from the Formal and Social education in Canada? Keep reading to find out.

Formal education

Credits! Oh how I loved these during my education in Canada. For the first time in my life, I was able to select what I wanted to study. If I didn’t liked it, I could drop the class and try something else next term. The duration of the credits… not my favorite. 2-3 months to learn something is not optimal for me. Back home, I would learn different aspects of a big subject for a whole year. The credit system and short learning time created one of the biggest problems for me in Canadian education: time spent with your classmates. I had to run to 4 different buildings in one day to watch my classes. That means little time to stay around, talk to my classmates, get to know them better and what not.

My take on the system is… the price of individualized studies was the lack of social contact. Furthermore, if students are not exposed to social situations, they might not get better at them (read my previous article for better understanding). Bright side though, here in Canada, students have an amazing opportunity at shaping their future through education. Much better than Brazil.

Social education

The educational system in Canada does not promote the best social learning for several reasons. Thus, there is little room for social skills development, such as empathy. For example:

I have been called racist for commenting about the shape Asian eyes. If that classmate of mine had a chance to get to know me better, she would understand that I am into Asian culture, thus, my comment came from a positive place.

In a group assignment, my classmates became furious at me for trying to reassign tasks because I had a job interview coming and I had to prepare.

I was labeled a womanizer just because I complimented one of my professor’s new hair style.

After talking to my classmates to clarify what happened, I noticed a pattern… they manifested their internal voice without understanding the other person (me) and the context (what was going on and why). Being honest, why would they? We would only be together for a few weeks and then go separate ways. Alas, if they were socially exposed and understood the power that a positive relationship could have, I bet they would not act the way they did. Unfortunately, understanding other and the context are skills that I see lacking a lot around (who knows? Maybe I am just meeting the wrong people).

Bottom line, there is a huge room for improvement in the Canadian education system when it comes to social skills, and it is not because of the formal education. Schools do what they can, but the system and the Individualistic culture, do not allow a lot of personal skills to be learned. No wonder, 2st century skills are a hot topic in education nowadays, but it is barely mentioned in Brazil. Guess what we are talking about back home? The need of a more specialized education.

The take home message

The educational system in Canada is pretty A-MAZ-ING! Credits system, freedom to pursue whatever a student wants, well stablished organization and standards for each area of knowledge are a few ingredients that make this country so good at what it does. Unfortunately, it also leaves the social side hindered, where peers are considered passing shadows rather than someone really worth of some social investment.

- Nikolas Zetouni

Did you know Coded Minds is a pioneer in iSTEAM and one of the first companies to integrate it into their learning objectives and educational programs? To enrol your child in iSTEAM learning or learn how to integrate iSTEAM into your educational program or curriculum, CLICK HERE.



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