I distinctly remember walking into my grade four classroom. My teacher was dressed in a three piece suit and rarely smiled. Our desks were in neat rows, with the teachers desk at the front and the chalkboard in behind. The back book shelves were full of Encyclopedia Britanica and there was microfiche in the library. He stood at the front and delivered information and we listened (most of the time). We took notes, raised our hands and everyday began with a singing of O Canada and God Save the Queen. Learning was listening. Research was done by reading books and taking notes. Memorization was a key skill that separated the “Good students” from the “Not so good”. If I wanted to send information to a friend sitting beside me without getting into trouble I wrote her a note and snuck it to her hoping it wouldn’t get intercepted. Fast forward a mere 25ish years and learning and communication have changed drastically.
Our access to information no longer involves finding the correct encyclopedia and searching through the pages. We aren’t limited to a few published sources. Memorization of spelling, periodic tables and vocabulary is losing importance. Our children have access to answers to any of their questions instantly at their fingertips. Their jean’s pockets contain more information than was ever housed on our grade four book shelves. Even the way we communicate with each other has completely changed. With ever-evolving technology and instant access to information, our education system doesn’t have a choice but to change or get left in the dust.
This September British Columbia will implement one of the largest changes in education in decades. (see more here) Every subject area in kindergarten to grade nine has undergone a massive curricular transformation. It has placed the learner at the centre and is focussed on uncovering a joy of learning. Teachers shift from information givers to facilitators. Educational focus on the remembering and regurgitation of information will be replaced with a focus on thinking and communicating understanding. Learning inside the classroom looks beyond just knowing and puts the focus on the process of building understanding.
To say I am excited about this shift would be a massive understatement. However, I do appreciate that change is scary for many. As we know, change takes time. This will not be an immediate shift and won’t happen overnight. For this transformation to be successful we all need to be partners in education. We need to see learning as more than a chore we do in school. I look forward to opportunities when students, parents, teachers and the entire school community are working and learning together. This year students will be encouraged to take ownership of their learning through building their own learning targets and reflecting on their own learning journey. Teachers will continue the transition from traditional stand and deliver models of information delivery to facilitators, encouragers and exciters of learning. My prayer is that over time the changes we are implementing with this curriculum will inspire us on our path to produce motivated, excited and engaged life long learners.