While we’re busy teaching our kids to tend school gardens, they’re failing provincial tests in reading, writing and math. The folly of the new enviro-propaganda
(Illustration: Tavis Coburn)
This fall, hundreds of Toronto students are harvesting beets and zucchini from their school gardens. I say: nice photo op, bad idea. The argument for school gardens assumes that by grubbing in the dirt, kids will learn to love eating vegetables. They won’t think chickens hatch into this world as deep-fried nuggets. And they’ll develop a respect for nature.
Here’s the counter-argument: our students shouldn’t be out scrabbling in the hot sun when one in five can’t pass the Grade 10 literacy test administered by the provincially funded Education Quality and Accountability Office. And while Canadian students score high internationally in reading, mathematics and the sciences, Statistics Canada says our relative ranking is declining due to improved performance by other countries. In this era of global competition, we can’t afford to let other nations nip at our heels.
Half of Toronto’s population was born outside Canada, and it’s a safe bet many of them came here for a better life, including a good education for their offspring. A lot of immigrants originate from agrarian regions of countries such as India, Pakistan, China and the Philippines. The last thing these newcomers need is a morality crusade about carrots. Yet more than 200 of Toronto’s nearly 600 public schools now have gardens, and an army of well-meaning parents, volunteers, activists and advocacy organizations with a social agenda is successfully lobbying for more.
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