Editorial: Bigger does not necessarily mean better in education

Manitoulin Island often punches well above its weight when it comes to scholastic achievement proving that great things can come in small packages—especially when it comes to education.

The “proof of the proof,” as a former Canadian prime minister was wont to say, has once again been laid out before us with the outstanding accomplishments of the Wikwemikong High School FIRST Robotics team. 

These hardy young scientific explorers set out to tackle the world with their STEM acumen at the world championships in Detroit, competing against the very best that the world has to offer despite hailing from a community so small that rival teams routinely sported more members than the entire Wikwemikong High School student body, and went on to prevail far beyond any reasonable expectations.

While the accomplishments of these budding young scientists are a source of pride for their community and the Island as a whole, their impact spreads far beyond the borders of Wiikwemkoong. Thanks to their outreach work with schools across Manitoulin and beyond, these young individuals have inspired others to reach for the stars—proving that you do not have to come from a large wealthy school to take on the world on its home turf.

Perhaps as Islanders we have become somewhat complacent about the achievements of our youth. It wasn’t so long ago that the students of Manitoulin’s other secondary school were challenging the globe in their own right at the Science Olympiad. Given the passion and willingness of educators and community mentors to go the extra mile for the youth, just about anything can be accomplished. Recently, the students at Little Current Public School won a regional science olympiad as well.

Remarkable educators like Wikwemikong High School’s Chris Mara and former Manitoulin Secondary School science teacher Rob Cassibo have placed their mark upon the hearts and minds of their students and encouraged them to dream as large as the sky and as far as the stars. Given the opportunity and the support of their communities, there really are no limits to what students can accomplish.

It is a lesson many of our politicians could do well to take to heart. Rather than taking a razor to the cost of educating the next generation and hobbling educators with so many students that they become little more than wardens and babysitters trying to maintain order in the classroom, allow educators to do what they got into the profession to do—inspire young minds to become all that they can be. 

Our nation will be stronger for it.