PM Trudeau delivers remarks at the Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence in Ottawa
Thank you, Nav, for that warm welcome. Nav, you do an incredible job as Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. And that’s in part because you work to ensure that young, and not so young, Canadians are ready to seize the opportunities available to them.
The other thing that I know is a bit of a challenge for him is, he is extraordinarily passionate about these teachers awards, and he and his department work hard all year to make sure that this extraordinary crop of teachers that we celebrate are truly the best examples in Canada of amazing leadership towards students. And he looks forward to this, and he’s excited about it and he comes up on stage on his big day, and it’s the Prime Minister’s teaching awards, and I wander in…
And just sweep up all the credit! But him and his department do an extraordinary work in making these awards a reality and we really couldn’t do it without you and everyone.
We all remember a teacher who had an impact on us, someone who pushed us to go further, dream bigger or keep aiming higher. Who helped us discover what we’re passionate about, and set goals for ourselves and overcome obstacles along the way.
The job of teacher is more than just teaching kids how to deftly avoid split-infinitives – you see what I did there? I’m just saying! – or the order of our…
I think we’ve got an English teacher who appreciated that there! I put the ‘deftly’ in myself, just to mess it up.
Or the order of operations in math, although those are very important lessons. At the end of the day, being a teacher is about preparing kids to navigate a complicated world. It’s about teaching young people how to stand on their own two feet and be confident that they can make a positive difference, no matter what path they choose.
As someone who has spent a fair bit of time in the front of a classroom, I know exactly why you put in those extra hours. It’s because every kid deserves to have someone in their corner who believes in the incredible person they already are and who will they… and they will become. I get asked a lot, and actually Nav made the mistake earlier in his introduction, which was otherwise quite excellent…
Of referring to me as a former teacher. There’s no such thing as a former teacher. When you’re a teacher, you’re a teacher and that’s your calling. And those who don’t know the profession might say, oh yeah, no sure, he’s going to say he’s a teacher because he thinks he has all the answers. Well that’s exactly what makes a good teacher, is knowing you don’t have all the answers. Knowing that your job isn’t to give the answers to the kids, knowing your job primarily is to teach your kids to ask questions and find the answers for themselves. That yes, the role of a teacher is more about empowering than anything else, and if you look at a model of what makes for a good politician, bankers, or lawyers, or professionals or the various range of paths you can take towards politics; someone who learnt from an early age how important it is to empower the people you are serving, who you are responsible for and accountable to, is the most important thing.
And that’s why I think being a teacher is probably the best possible way to learn to become a good politician and a good Prime Minister. And I thank you all for everything you do every single day as teachers, to make our communities better, not just today, but tomorrow when they are peopled by the kids that you teach in your classrooms, day in and day out.
Our government knows how hard you work to give our children the best start in life. Whether it’s helping your students with their homework at lunchtime, or paying special attention to the ones who are going through tough times at home, you’re there for our youth and you deserve a government that’s there for you. A government that recognizes the challenges you face and wants to help you meet them.
One of our objectives is to ensure that you have the resources you need to adapt your curricula to the realities of today’s world. I’m not teaching you anything when I tell you that new technologies have completely transformed the way we do things and the places where we work. To help you better prepare your students, we invest in programs that will help propel both teaching and students into the future.
When one of your students tells you they want to become a coder, our government is ensuring you’ve got the tools to help make that happen. Our CanCode program is teaching students and educators alike how to code, a skill that’s becoming more and more important always in our changing economy. And when a student says that they want to become an astronaut, well we’ve got you covered there too.
Our new junior astronaut’s program is a great resource for kids who dream of being the next David Saint-Jacques and it also means… or the next Marc Garneau, andMarc works very hard for all of you! It also means that you don’t have to do a crash course in physics.
Of course, none of these incredible programs would be possible without people like you; teachers who go above and beyond to help our kids succeed. And your dedication as educators is precisely what we’re honouring today with the Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence.
For the recipients I want to say thank you for your extraordinary work, thank you for believing in our kids and making our future even brighter.
Thank you very much, my friends.