I never thought that our province’s new education plan would mark my inaugural blog post as I have recently pondered on writing on a variety of topics (and will do so in subsequent posts) yet the interesting thing was our province’s vision for the future of education seemed like an appropriate platform.
Before delving in, I wanted to thank the many bloggers already posting great ideas that have sparked my own. In particular, there are a few people that I wanted to acknowledge – some that I know personally and others strictly as online collaborators. Thank you to Joe Campbell and Bryan Hughes for the encouragement and support and two well established bloggers on education: Chris Kennedy and Gino Bondi for sharing their online reflections.
The new BC Education plan speaks to the rapid changes that are taking place today that will change the future of education. The plan is based on adaptability and providing increased flexibility. Further it focuses on 5 key elements:
1) Personalized learning for every student
2) Quality Teaching and Learning
3) Flexibility and Choice
4) High Standards
5) Learning Empowered by Technology
The identification of these elements represent a solid first step in moving towards a vision but at the same time have been phrases that arguably have been overused in the educational discourse. Beyond defining these concepts in broad terms it is more important to deconstruct their meaning for our school communities. This portrayal can be appropriately summarized using the Minister of Education, George Abbott’s words:
And yet our education system is based on a model of learning from an earlier century. To change that, we need to put students at the centre of their own education. We need to make a better link between what kids learn at school and what they experience and learn in their everyday lives. We need to create new learning environments for students that allow them to discover, embrace and fulfill their passions. We need to set the stage for parents, teachers, administrators and other partners to prepare our children for success not only in today’s world, but in a world that few of us can yet imagine.
At the school level these changes are beginning to take shape. For instance, at Seycove Secondary, we are continuing to look at new ways our students engage in their learning beyond the traditional timetable and staff who are looking at new ways to deliver curriculum and build learning environments empowered by technology. Beyond structural changes, quality teaching and learning will always remain at the core of any meaningful change. John Kotter in his eight-step framework Leading Change identifies creating a true sense of urgency as not only the first step but the toughest. This is especially true when Canada is one of the top performing countries in Reading, Mathematics and Science (PISA 2009) which can dilute the sense of urgency to continually improve.
In the current teacher strike environment, the challenge in front of all of us as educational stakeholders is creating opportunity amidst crisis or chaos. An opportunity to create ‘new’ education models that really go beyond words and become a new reality.