Posted by: kbater | December 9, 2010

Community Education Network

 Wordle: Untitled

This is a neat web-based program called wordle – I’ve used the description we’ve written about our new Community Education Network process and inserted it into the wordle program and this word cloud is the result.  Just click on this small image to see a larger screen image of the word cloud. 

Why a Community Education Network?

The Canadian Rockies Public School (CRPS) Board has been looking at governance, public engagement, and effective decision-making for a number of years. In the work of the last 7 years, the School Board has discovered that it can be a more intelligent and responsive system when it hears from more people. This became particularly evident during the creation of the vision for CRPS during Inspiring Hearts and Minds (IHM).

 CRPS is establishing a Community Education Network (CEN) to expand the reach of understanding and direction-setting through a community approach to public education.

(I wrote an article “A Facelift for Democracy” earlier this year that talks about why this idea is important and how it might work.) 

We need to Leap into the Future!

This is the official description of why a CEN.  I would also say that if we truly want schools and communities to feed each other and build something that is compelling in the 21st century we need to take some big leaps.  Below is a compelling story from some teachers and students that can inform us about how to shape the future for students and learning.

At the CRPS public meeting on December 7th a group from Canmore Collegiate presented their experience of spending a week on a tall ship. Two teachers and two students presented their experience to us with pictures and stories. They identified 5 key areas that their learning surfaced:

  1. Responsibility – Their lives, success, learning was in their own hands and they literally had to be able to respond to sail the ship and to create the learning.
  2. Accountability – There was no one else there to take over, to bail you out or to blame – everyone saw what you were up to and how you contributed.  There was nowhere to hide.
  3. Collaboration – you can’t raise sails on your own – you had to work together – it was fun to work together- if you didn’t know how to do something, others did and they could help you.
  4. Community – A ship is a small space – you have to get along.  Eating, cleaning, working, and singing together created closeness, fun, safety and a real sense of community.
  5. Being Present – no cell phones, no i-pods, no distractions.  Work, fun, conversation, time to reflect, learn and be.  Wow – doesn’t that sound appealing.

They also talked about the idea of authentic learning – you learn about knots…and then you have to use knots now to manage your ship for safety and effectiveness.  You study navigation and then you have to navigate to get to where you want to go.  This idea of real life learning is something schools really need to look at.  Kids are antsy for it (or at least that’s what I’ve been hearing from my 17-year-old daughter and her friends).  I wrote an article about it last month.

BCHS girls racing into the future

Another group of teachers and a student also talked to us about our environmental practices and some great ideas they have about how we can focus on and improve how we create learning around the environment for students, teachers, the district and impact our communities.  See Trustee Esme Comfort’s blog about this.

1st steps!

On January 12th the 1st gathering of the Community Education Network (CEN) will take place from 7 – 9:30 pm at Lawrence Grassi Middle School in Canmore.  Along with the 26 members who will sit on the steering committee we are inviting members of the public (students, teachers, staff, parents, school councils, community agencies, businesses, and community members) to come and explore how to work together to establish an approach like the students and teachers above and their five learning areas.  We will have Dr. Keith Seel (picture left) from Mount Royal University talk with us about generative learning and leadership and we will have a lively discussion format to spur us to leap into the future with a collaborative, at times chaotic, fun, learning process to ensure that we fulfill the directions we created with Inspiring Hearts and Minds. 

To prepare our children to thrive as individuals and to contribute as citizens and leaders in our interconnected, complex and exponentially changing world.




  1. […] commentary on the experience. My colleague and board chair, Kim Bater, has covered it in an excellent post, We need to Leap into the Future. It was obviously a significant and transformational time for the […]

  2. […] staff, parents, and community members all inform direction-setting in the district.  I wrote a blog about this approach during the election this […]

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