Inspiring Education…the Solution?
In 2008, Alberta’s premier, Ed Stelmach, asked then Education Minister Dave Hancock to lead a project to create a long-term vision for teaching and learning in the province. The result of this project was Inspiring Education: A Dialogue with Albertans which encapsulated the vision for the future of education (http://education.alberta.ca/department/ipr/inspiringeducation.aspx). This document has been recognized around the globe as a progressive and innovative step for education. Given that my posts have focused on excellence in teaching and the creation of authentic learning experiences for students, I felt it appropriate to look at what the government of Alberta hopes education will look like.
The vision of the Inspiring Education framework is to help youth become engaged thinkers and ethical citizens who possess an entrepreneurial spirit. These students will be encouraged to think critically and use inquiry in a interdisciplinary approach to solve problems. They will be encouraged to use technology to communicate, create and share their ideas with a wide audience. In addition, students will focus on building relationships which demonstrate respect, empathy and compassion and focus on collaboration. Finally, these students will challenge the status quo and take risks to work through problems. Finally, Inspiring Education mandates that learning and education is a community wide responsibility and that all community members must be engaged in the process.
I find it difficult to argue with the vision of Inspiring Education. The three E’s are what I want for my students and for my children. I want students to be engaged thinkers and use a variety of tools and approaches to solve problems they are presented with. I want them to connect with a wide range of people in a spirit of collaboration. In addition, I want students to be resilient and challenge current thinking – to create solutions and act boldly. While these seem like tall orders for teachers, I don’t believe it needs to be overly complex. What if students were presented with a problem, connected with others to solve that problem, created a solution to their problem, shared their solution, reflected upon the entire process and repeated these steps over and over again? Would that not be a straightforward process of education and would it not meet the vision of Inspiring Educatio? I wish I could take credit for this process but I cannot. I have adapted it from feedback I received from Alec Couros (@courosa; http://www.courosa.ca) and Laurel Beaton (@laurelbeaton; http://www.laurelbeaton.wordpress.com).
Regardless of where the model originated, it is a straightforward process of learning. It can encapsulate the core elements of Inspiring Education. In this model, David Truss’ 7 components of authentic learning come through. If schools/teachers allow students frequent attempts in learning, they will develop the confidence to challenge the status quo and “think outside the box.” In this model there is a greater focus and emphasis on learning, inquiry, and discovery. In addition, this can be an interdisciplinary approach which focuses on competencies and not content.
In May of this year, Alberta’s current Minister of Education, Jeff Johnson signed a ministerial order on student learning which promotes this simple model of education (http://education.alberta.ca/department/policy/standards/goals.aspx). As such, it is our responsibility as educators in this province to ensure our practice reflects the Ministerial Order on Student Learning.
So, if we have a relatively straightforward model of learning, a globally recognized vision of learning, and a Ministerial Order on Student Learning which ties this all together, what’s next? We have the framework, the vision and the policy. What do we as teachers, administrators, and community members need to do? I look forward to hearing thoughts and ideas.
Have a great day,