Hiking up Saddleback pass a good friend asked me:
“What is important to you, and what do you think should be happening in schools?”
This is what’s important to me:
- Whole child development – we give a lot of focus to cognitive/intellectual development and I’d like to see us address students emotional, social, and physical developement more – emotional and social development are actually more accurate predictors of success later in life. Whole child Education – a great resource.
- Broad Programming – with both formal classes and extra-curricular activities I’d like to see more variety for students – arts, leadership, community action, and technology are some key areas where we could expand learning for students. See my other post on real life learning for another approach.
- Relationship skills/focus – a key for success now and in the future is developing interpersonal skills. A strong sense of self with an ability to understand and work with others is invaluable. In the leadership training work I do I see that is what holds most people, businesses and organizations back from achieving their goals. The Conference Board of Canada identifies these interpersonal and team skills as being most important to employers (from their surveys).
- Community approach to Education – We have so many people in our community (s) that have great knowledge, skills, and experience to offer our students. We should access these people even more that we currently do. Students also benefit from being involved in their community and learning through tackling community challenges.
- Teachers and all staff are vital – Students learn the most through their interactions with each other and the signficant adult models in their life. Teachers and staff play a pivotal role in development and success and we need to free them up to focus more on the relationships with students and be less driven by curriculum.
- 21st century skills are important and engaging – We don’t live in the 20th century anymore and kids need a new set of skills to navigate the world of today and tomorrow. Key 21st century skills are: Critical thinking and problem-solving skills, communications and collaboration, creativity and innovation, digital-age literacy and emotional intelligence. It also leads to healthy family relationships, work and career success, and vibrant communities.
- The Role of Teachers is changing – Teachers will always have to have some important content knowledge and it is important that on top of that teachers are able to be facilitators of learning focusing on the 21st century skills above. This means that the process of learning receives as much or more focus as the content (which changes regularly). A key shift that is happening is seeing students more as self-directed and collaborative learners – here is a great blog about this.
- Global connections are valuable – We have an amazing ability to connect with information from around the world, to explore other cultures and other knowledge through the internet, through exchange programs and through the many people who live, work and play in Banff who have travelled the world. This opens up possibilities for learning – students are enriched by these connections and they find it engaging. We also have lots to offer the world and need to share our culture, knowledge and unique lifestyles.
- Schools should be hubs of learning in the community – We really should use schools to bring people together – learners of all ages from pre-school, school age, young adults, business people, athletes, seniors, Mayor and Council, Banff Centre, Parks and of course – teachers and community facilitators. Dynamic learning is accelerated by having different people leading, following, provoking, asking questions, and working together. This collaborative approach is what makes Goggle, day cares, play circles, cirque du soleil and other arts groups such interesting and engaging places to work and learn.
Our Inspiring Hearts and Minds work over the last three years has pointed us towards these ideas. Some of these ideas are moving already, some need more focus so that they can be put into action. A key action that the Board of Trustees needs to continue engaging in is advocating for a fairer funding model for our schools so that we have the funds we need to address the goals identified above.
My involvement with early childhood education, leadership training, community development and board development tell me that these goals are what kids, community, Not for profits, businesses, and governments need in order for us to build a healthy, sustainable approach to Leadership, Learning and Community!