Joel Westheimer is the education columnist for CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning and Ontario Today shows. Below are selected radio columns.


Class Size - Is Bigger Ever Better? The province announced a series of changes to the education system last week including a plan to increase the average class size. One way the province plans to do that is by boosting the average class size in high school. We dig into the research with our education columnist.

College Admissions Scandal. The FBI charged fifty people in what they're calling the largest-ever college admissions scam ever. Education columnist and Princeton alumnus, Joel Westheimer, talks about the problems in the admissions process after the scandal in the States.


Citizenship in a Changing World. With University of Toronto Philosophy Professor Mark Kingwell: Nurturing citizenship and reclaiming the public space (VoiceEd Radio)

What Does it Take to Change a School Culture? What does it take to change a school's culture and how do you even start that conversation in the classroom?

What is the Purpose of School? "In the Public Square" conversation, with Ottawa history teacher Rachel Collishaw, about democracy, citizenship and the purpose of schools. (VoiceEd Radio)

Are Classroom Apps Good for Your Kids? If you've got a kid in school chances are you've downloaded at least one app that shows you exactly what they're up to. But do apps like Class Dojo and Seesaw really help kids or parents?

Politics in the Classroom. Education is a hot button issue on the campaign trail this spring but how much should teachers wade into the election in the classroom?

The Changing Role of Guidance Counsellors. As the role of the guidance counsellor expands the province is promising to increase staffing in middle school.

Four-day School Week. In the American city of Denver, four day school weeks will soon be the norm. 

US School Walkout. High school students in the United States walked out en masse to protest gun violence in America. Education columnist Joel Westheimer was there.

How Much Coding Should Our School Kids Be Taught? In many classrooms in this city kids are learning to code, sometimes for up to an hour a week. Is it worth the time at such a young age?


Schools Crowdfunding. Many teachers are turning to crowdfunding to stock their classrooms with everything from 3D printers to iPads. 

Should Schools Have Rules Over Halloween Costumes As Halloween looms a debate is raging over costumes in the classroom.

Students Grading Their Own Work: Is Self Evaluation the Way to Go? Some students are getting the chance to mark their own homework as part of a pilot project at an Ontario school. 

The Gap YearJoel Westheimer weighs in on the pros and cons of the gap year. 

Skills-based Programs. The province says skills-based programs are helping boost graduation rates.

Fidget Spinners. Toy or educational tool? 

RoughhousingA new guide for Quebec daycares says we should encourage roughhousing. What are the benefits? 

Fiddler on the Roof. Interviews with Joel Westheimer and a few other stars of Fiddler on the Roof.

Schools and Drugs: The Opioid CrisisAs the community struggles to figure out a spate of teen overdoses, education columnist Joel Westheimer weighs in on what schools can really do about teen drug abuse.

No Grades for Elementary School Students. For many kids it's a dream, no more grades on report cards or assignments.


Teaching Trump. Joel Westheimer weighs in on the debate over teacher neutrality and political opinion in the classroom.

Middle Schools. (November 1, 2016). Ottawa's English public school board wants to phase out middle schools.

Inclusive Schools. Gifted programs are on the chopping block in the Ottawa Carleton School Board. 

Summer Transitions. (September 6, 2016). Education columnist Joel Westheimer offers advice on how to smooth out those transitions and how schools can help with first day jitters.

Summer SlideDoes a two month break from school lead to "summer slide"?

Rural vs. Urban Schools. As two Ottawa Valley schools with fewer than 60 students get ready to close, education columnist Joel Westheimer on what cannot be measured by size alone.

Should Schools Be Teaching "Grit"? Why do some students succeed while others do not? 

What Canada Can Learn from Finland's Schools. Many of the Syrian children who came to Canada are now in school but the key to their success may be found in Finland.

Politics in the Classroom. Are schools doing everything they can to make sure students grow into good citizens? Dr. Joel Westheimer discusses educating students for the "common good" with "St. Louis on the Air" host Don Marsh.

Special High School ProgramsAre special high school programs just another way of streaming students? As the Ottawa Carleton District School Board starts its own review, education columnist Joel Westheimer weighs in on the pros and cons of speciality programs.

Surveillance and Social Media.  

Integrated Classrooms. (March 1, 2016). Ottawa's public school board recently made a move towards more integrated classrooms.

Hand Raising in Class. (February 9, 2016). Is asking students to raise their hands really the best way to engage them or should the practice be stopped?

Alternatives to Exams. Education columnist Joel Westheimer weighs in on the pros and cons of alternative high school exams.


Mandatory Volunteering. Does mandatory volunteering build better citizens? Fifteen years after Ontario introduced high school volunteer hours, some people wonder whether it is time for a review.

B-Y-O-D (Bring Your Own Device). (September 29, 2015). B-Y-O-D and Wifi in every classroom. As more and more schools embrace a technology first approach, education columnist Joel Westheimer takes a look at whether it helps or hinders learning.

Flipped Classrooms. Doing homework at school, and the lectures at home. The "flipped classroom" trend, and whether it helps or hurts learning.

Students, What Needs to Change about Schools? As one teachers' union settles its labour dispute and two more continue in a legal strike position, CBC invites students to the table. 2014-15 was a challenging school year, with labour unrest, a new sex ed curriculum and protests over dress codes. As the new school year approaches, CBC asks students: What needs to change about school? Guests are: Roman Ebadi, a grade 12 student from Hamilton and CEO for the Organization for Ontario Secondary Students; Laura Anderson, a high school grad from London, Ontario who was involved in a dress code protest after being sent home for wearing a tank top and ripped jeans to school; Professor Joel Westheimer, University Research Chair for Democracy and Education at the University of Ottawa.

Citizenship Education in Schools. (June 25, 2015). Interview with Bob Barrett on WAMC Northeast Public Radio's The Best Of Our Knowledge. 

How Much Do Report Cards Matter? (June 16, 2015). The news they will not not be getting report cards this year is hitting some students hard.

Dr. Joel Westheimer on Democratic Ideals. (May 27, 2015). Interview with WORT Community Radio's Jan Miyasaki on The Buzz. 

Citizenship Education. KOPN Evening Edition with Mark Heim. 

Author Joel Westheimer discusses What Kind of Citizen? on #ConversationsLIVE. (April 29, 2015). Host Cyrus Webb welcomes author Joel Westheimer to #ConversationsLIVE on Blog Talk Radio to discuss his new book What Kind of Citizen? Educating Our Children for the Common Good.

Applied Math as a New Way of Streaming Students. Are students sorted into advanced or "applied" courses based on family income? There's a new report out on applied high school courses, and the people who take them in Ontario. The report was written by the advocacy group People for Education. It found the bulk of teenagers taking "applied" courses in Ontario continue to come from low-income households despite the fact that streaming was officially abolished in 1999. Education columnist Joel Westheimer weighs in on the study, and the concept of streaming.

Teacher Attrition. A new crop of teachers are getting their diplomas. But stats show one-third will leave the profession in the next 5 years.

Home Economics. The argument for a return to home economics in schools.

Implementing the Ontario Sex Education Curriculum. The Ontario government has given the OK to the new sex ed curriculum. Now how do you get TEACHERS ready to talk about sex? 

The New Ontario Sex-Ed Curriculum. Spelling... Storytime ...Sex. Education columnist Joel Westheimer explains how Ontario students will learn the facts of life under the Liberals' new sex education curriculum.

Should Yik Yak Be Banned? It's an App that is causing chaos in Ottawa schools. So should Yik Yak be banned? Education columnist Joel Westheimer on how schools manage social media.


School Board Trustees. Coin toss. Eenie Meenie Mynie Moe. If this is how do you pick your school trustee... you'll get an earful from education columnist Joel Westheimer.

EQAO Anxiety. EQAO anxiety: What to do when your child comes home singing the standardized testing blues. 

Streaming Grade Eight StudentsAt what age should students decide between academic and applied courses? A new report says Grade 8 is too young. 

Valentine's Day In Schools. The upside of celebrating Valentine's Day at school. 


Grading Student Behaviour. Should students be rated on their behaviour in class? As Ottawa schools get ready to send home report cards, education columnist Joel Westheimer discusses the link between behaviour and learning. 

Entrepreneurship Programs. Bringing Ontario classrooms into the 21st century. Calls for entrepreneurship programs have education columnist Joel Westheimer wondering if it's the best way forward.

Meet the Teacher Night. Meet the teacher days are here, with mixed response from parents. Education columnist Joel Westheimer spoke to Robyn about the importance of parent-teacher relationships, and why so many schools are failing.

Should Cell Phones Be Banned From All SchoolsLast week, Ontario elementary teachers passed a motion to have students turn off and put away cell phones while in school. Ultimately, it is up to school boards to decide how to handle cell phones in school. But the motion has re-ignited the debate about whether a ban is needed. 

The New Ontario Teachers College Curriculum. Last week, Ontario's education minister Liz Sandals announced some pretty fundamental changes to the way teachers will be trained in this province, starting in 2015. It might be bad news for the universities' bottom lines, but education columnist Joel Westheimer says it's good news for everyone else. 

EQAO Testing. Not being able to sleep, coming home in tears... For some kids, standardized tests are a major source of stress. So some parents keep their children home on test day. 

Far-flung School Trips. The pros and cons of expensive school trips to far-away places. 

Taking School Complaints to the OmbudsmanEducation columnist Joel Westheimer weighs in on the idea of the province's ombudsman examining school policies.

Recess Cancelled. It's not just school buses that are cancelled when the weather turns foul. More and more schools are also cancelling recess. Education columnist Joel Westheimer cries foul. 

School Architecture and Design. MPP Yasir Naqvi announced yesterday more than 47 million dollars for school projects in Ottawa's public board. But as the old saying goes, schools are more than bricks and mortar. Education columnist Joel Westheimer tells us the space where students learn matters more than you think.


School Safety. 

Teaching “New Math.” Math classes across Ontario are adding exercises that emphasize real life situations and subtracting time memorizing times-tables. The "New Math" methodology is dividing parents. Education columnist, Joel Westheimer, walks us through the pluses and minuses of the new technique.

Scrapping Middle School. Is there a case for scrapping middle school? A couple of recent studies have suggested that middle school students perform worse in math and English than their counterparts in K-8 schools. But many parents like the idea of middle schools – especially if it means not sending 12 year olds to school with kids who can drive. So how to know which school system is best?