It has been exciting. No, make that exhilerating. We have been inventing every single day. It is a rare and unique opportunity that I have been relishing. We are in a totally different place at this time than where we were last year. We have figured out so much more, continuing to develop a model of open, personalized, interdisciplinary inquiry. It is not easy. There is much unlearning to do.
Our plans are beginning to take off and it is happening fast. Next month, we meet with the Ministry of Education to facilitate launching the Innovation Zone. We, with a few other places around the province, will be pioneering a new way to do school that is competency based rather than outcome based. This is what we have been pressing for since the day we began last year and it is actually happening! Yes, system wide, educational transformation is on the horizon. It is possible to change the system!
I have been focusing hard on breaking our learners out of status quo thinking to the principles of the school: interdisciplinary inquiry and co -creation of curriculum and assessments based on evaluating competencies that intersect at big ideas. Writing report cards are very challenging at the moment as we are having to translate from inquiry back into a course based on learning outcomes. There are things that are going on at the school that the traditional model cannot capture. Like the collaboration and leadership that is happening. Or the creative and critical thinking. It is phenomenal:
- A role playing game entitled, Rift of Time, that involves 7 learners are working on so many different levels, from digital art to probability factor. They are building a website and writing the History of the worlds. They have got themselves into the largest gaming conference in Victoria, for beta testing.
- We have also been rehearsing a major film and a 6 part miniseries that has involved tremendous teamwork from so many different people (think of the credits that roll at the end of a movie). We are actually going into production for the film, “A Light in the Forest” this weekend. It is a very emotionally challenging film and the lead actor has been doing an incredible job in rehearsals.
- Another team of learners have been designing and building an art installation for TEDxVictoria this weekend. It looks amazing and has also involved so many learners on so many creative levels while collaborating together as a team to accomplish something that is far bigger than any one of them could do on their own.
The totality of that learning is difficult to represent back into an outcome, course based model. It is however, very easy to report upon competencies, like collaboration and leadership. And really, isn’t that the learning we truly want? We do not need to be regurgitating facts back on tests. Personally, as an entrepreneur, teacher and a parent, I would much rather have a report on how my son is learning to collaborate and build things for the betterment of the world rather than some unimportant number in Science 10 based on how many facts he can memorize.
The time to change is now! I will save you the rant. There are many others who have said it more eloquently than I. If you want to understand how we need to change education, you must read:
And of course, Jeff Hopkins who is the principal of the mighty Pacific School of Innovation and inquiry. This is his vision of what high school needs to look like now, in 2014 and it is what we are proposing to the Ministry of Education next month:
It is looking very promising that we will get to do this starting next year. In my mind, I am already there. The revolution has already happened.