On Wednesday 9 November, MGCI hosted a delegation of 35 principals, or “headmasters,” from the Norwegian school system. The guests arrived at MGCI at approximately 9 am, and toured the school building until roughly 11:30 am. During the visit, student ambassadors led the principals around the school facilities. They visited many classes, ranging from Grade 12 English to Hands-On ESL. The guests took notes and asked Garneau students about their experiences at the school.
Prior to arriving at Garneau, the Norwegian delegation had already visited several other schools in Toronto, including Earl Haig S.S. and Downsview S.S. One of the primary reasons that the principals chose to visit MGCI was for its diversity; Norway recently accepted thousands of refugees, and is exploring how it can best accommodate this large influx of foreign students.
Principals were impressed by the great variety of courses offered at the schools they visited, since selection is quite limited in Norway. They noted that in Norwegian schools, there is less freedom for students to take the subjects they enjoy, and this has translated into lack of motivation and engagement in classrooms. Consequently, the principals travelled to Canada to learn about new teaching approaches which could make their own classrooms more interactive.
Mr. Strand, one of the visiting headmasters, commented that he was greatly impressed by the Canadian schooling system. He said that he admired the way students and staff worked together, regardless of race and background, adding, “People are treated with respect. You don’t look at different minorities as problems.” He also stated that while he had visited education systems in Asia, Africa, and Europe, “I think this is the best school system I have seen.” General consensus amongst the visitors was that the TDSB has commendable structure, with well-defined goals communicated to all levels of the organization.
In addition to touring schools, the principals were enjoying some sightseeing of the city. They watched a Maple Leafs game at the Air Canada Centre, visited Ripley’s Aquarium, and dined at 360 The Restaurant atop the CN Tower. The cohort was scheduled to leave Toronto on Friday 11 November. Let us wish them a safe flight back.