At The Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry, we are doing everything we can to move away from an outdated education system. Things being as they are, we need funding from the government. That means that we have to follow the BC curriculum in order to receive it. This leaves us tied to mandated learning outcomes. I have looked through nearly every single BC course and I have to say that the curriculum is in drastic need of alteration.
What is really challenging, is that our students are getting a mixed message that doing inquiry is in clash of doing courses which they need to graduate because it does not fit into the minutiae. Organizing material into courses is arbitrary. It is good to remember that. There are other ways to organize learning, that in my humble opinion, are far superior. Like competencies. And big ideas.
It is painfully apparent that education is in dire need of change. We are not just talking about it, theorizing, we are doing it – every single day. Some of the kids are having a difficult time buying into it for a variety of different reasons of which none would matter if we did not have to follow the BC curriculum which was originally designed for a system to produce factory workers. The time has come to move forward.
What are we really trying to measure? Wrapping up content in the form of a course and testing to see if that information was retained? Is that what we are measuring? I am done with that. The most cutting edge, innovative organizations in the world are done with that. Instead, we need to be getting kids to do deep inquiry on things they are passionate about that is supported through a series of competencies that expert teachers facilitate. This, in 2014, is a much more meaningful measurement than a test score on some very arbitrary standard exam.
It really is about process over content. Memorizing facts vs. using the scientific method to experiment. Filling in a worksheet vs. working with a diverse team to create a piece of performance art. The process comes out of competencies. To learn a process, one must do it; be involved with it. Not sit in a chair and listen to a lecture.
What is important to measure is depth of competence. That is true learning for our age of constant change. I can write pages, upon pages about the creative thinking competencies that my students are doing. Or the collaboration that is going on. Or the experiments that are happening. I cannot write pages, upon pages of how I measured students regurgitation of outdated content. But that is exactly what the system is still asking me to do.
I end with an example. We had been gifted 12 old towers from a local college for the students to pull apart, network together, experiment upon. We got a new student this week, a computer wizard. I have been waiting for months for a student(s) to cluster the towers together to harness the power of all of them to do a specific task. My new guy did it in a day and is on his way to use the power to mine for quark coins. His friend texted him from the high school down the road mentioning that he was sitting in a boring class listening to a lecture and what was he up to? He excitedly responded that he was beginning to mine for quark coins. Quite the contrast.
And so as part of the old system, I have to now repackage that learning into BC mandated courses tied to specific minutiae outcomes. I would rather like to look at the depth of what he is doing through the lens of a media competency co-creating big ideas to ensure fluency and proficiency. I believe that this is a much better reading of where a student is and reflects far greater upon his abilities than a number on a multiple choice exam and is far more innovative.