Education in a Changing World

Education in a Changing World

Over the past couple months I’ve been listening to residents of Vancouver-False Creek about what they consider important for the Provincial Government to focus on. Two themes continue to emerge from these conversations…Education and Healthcare.

These two areas account for $30.4 billion or 68.8% of the total planned expenditures for the entire provincial operating budget.

Education and Healthcare are expensive to deliver and managing taxpayer’s money in a responsible manner is essential. In this post I will address Education.

Our riding has a concentration of schools, and an ever increasing number of families. Three elementary schools are in the riding and a fourth in International Village will be open in less than 2 years. Several secondary schools surround us, such as King George, Kitsilano, Britannia, Prince of Wales, and Eric Hamber. Today’s families are not the same as when folks of my generation went to schools. Today’s students are also very different now than even 10 years ago.

What I’m hearing is that student’s learning requirements are not the same for the entire student populations. Technology is driving rapid changes, both in how students learn and in the preparation necessary for them to eventually enter the workforce.

Parents are saying they need more flexibility in how they are engaged, because their family schedules and dynamics are diverse.

I truly admire our teachers and administrators for their efforts in education in such rapidly changing times. Parents tell me how impressed they are with the teachers that have such an important role in their children’s development.

I’d like to share with you a few areas of education that I feel are important for our students, parents and teachers.

Technological Learning

Whenever I see students in our neighbourhood, they invariably have some kind of electronic device in their hand, no matter what their ages. Technology is such an imbedded part of their life, from communication to entertainment to social interaction.

Ensuring technology is part of their learning is not just important because our world is becoming more digital, it is important because technology is how they learn. We need to ensure that schools, students and teachers have the necessary technology to create an advanced learning environment.

Personalized Learning

I am particularly fascinated with the notion of personalized or student-centered learning.
It’s so important for students to be engaged in creating their own plan, along with their teachers and parents.

I often wonder what would have happened if some of our great minds had not been able to explore whatever their passion was. Would we have missed the lasting contribution of their genius? Students who invest time in developing the direction of their learning are bound to be more committed, focused and successful.

Flexible Learning

I believe it is essential for families to be engaged in the children’s learning. That used to be easier to accomplish in previous generations where the family unit was more traditional, weekdays focussed primarily around work and school, weekends for rest and errands, and summers for vacations and fun.

Well, it’s just not as organized any more. Students and families can benefit from more options of when and where learning occurs. Having a more flexible school year allows for the integration of family and learning schedules that optimize the student’s needs.

Finally, any thoughts on Education would not be complete without a word on Foundation Skills Assessments or FSA’s.

The fact that the mere mention of FSA’s produces such debate from parents, teachers, academics, administrators, government, and yes, students, demonstrates to me not division, but an intense passion around learning and doing what is correct.

It is important to recognize that they are a snap shot, a moment in time, evaluating a few core competencies for Grade 4’s and 7’s. The data is extremely useful, but it is important not to generalize in interpreting the numbers, nor put too much emphasis on ranking the results.

I started out this note by mentioning the enormity of expenditures in areas such as Education. The FSA’s are one way of targeting specific areas that require educational investment.

It’s a serious issue that means a lot to all parties. It requires conversations with everyone.


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