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Hope For Education

Today’s typical classrooms do not reflect the outside world. If you placed a physician of 100 years ago into today’s operating room, she would be lost. However, if you place a teacher of 100 years ago into today’s classroom, he wouldn’t skip a beat.   Trish McNabb

Danielle and I talk frequently about schools as a political place, a place that reflects the values of a society. We reflect on the spaces that house childcare; basements, church halls, portables; places that not many others want. I tell the tale of my 30 years as an ECE in which I have never worked in a space that was purpose built, how I’ve had my fair share of silverfish (those tiny fish shaped insects….ugh!) invading all cupboards and drawers.  Schools fare somewhat better, but still reflect the above quote.  The teacher from 100 years ago would have no trouble identifying the classroom of today.

But here is an astounding exception.

Danielle and I were honoured to be invited to the Peace River North school district in BC to present to kindergarten teachers and ECE’s. We engaged in wonderful dialogue and reflection, had thoughtful discussion, great food, a snowstorm and a delayed flight.

We were also treated to a tour of the Energetic Learning Campus, a brilliant new satellite school for grade 10 students that defies traditional thinking. Look closely at the photo. The lockers? They all move. The tables and  chairs? They all move. The cool benches and low tables? They move too. The walls? Yup….they all move. The philosophy is revolutionary:

The ELC will foster student engagement by knowing students well, tapping into student experience and interests, and building a strong sense of community through an advisory program. All of the teachers will have shared preparation time where they will have the chance to reflect on and refine their day-to-day practice. This weekly shared-time will provide the occasion for powerful and productive discussion of the issues and needs that teachers identify in their work. 

Here is further food for thought;

I believe that if schools fail, kids lose and therefore society tends to stick to the safe ideas and traditional schooling, knowing the outcomes may not be amazing, but they are predictably mediocre at worst. I realize change is a difficult journey but to take education to the next level it is going to be hard. However, “difficult” or “hard” is no reason not to change.   Trish McNabb

Can we argue with that? Not likely. How about this?

For over 75 years the North American high school has followed three critical “operating instructions” that are so ingrained in the culture by now as to seem natural:

•    Segregate students by class, race, gender, language ability, or perceived academic ability.
•    Separate academic from technical teaching and learning.
•    Isolate adolescents from the adult world they are about to enter. 

Sheldon Steele 

 This is all about high school kids, but don’t these issues resonate for early childhood? Don’t we believe all areas of learning are overlapping, that one “subject” cannot be” taught” in isolation? That we fail to engage children in discussions of the real world? That class, gender and race still impact our programs?

It was wonderful to see a school district intent on exploding the myths of education.

About Kim

Kim is an admitted ECE geek. She and Danielle have bonded over their shared geekdom and have come to terms with it. She is a pedagogical facilitator working with educators in a number of early learning settings supporting and extending new thinking and practice. She loves reading, writing, talking and sharing ideas about the potentials of teaching and learning with ece's and young children. ECE geeks unite!

6 thoughts on “Hope For Education

  1. Absolutely! A theme that continued to emerge from that tour of the ELC was how our ideals for education were the same for all children no matter what the age. Ideas of co-learning, community, following children’s interests, thinking with children.

  2. Sounds like somewhere I would like my boys to attend 🙂 I’ve seen an elementary school in Edmonton, AB before. They had open walled classrooms and a real community concept.

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