Social Innovation Week – Let Learning Flourish in Schools

This is Social Innovation Week in Vancouver, with many events planned to stimulate thinking and collaborating about … social innovations (Find out more here).

I have an innovative idea to share with SIW in mind, one I perceive as arising with starker irony given the province-wide teachers’ strikes that have also arisen this week. To wit, BCTF-unionized, public school teachers have taken job action and now rotating strike action in support of a new contract with government.

(I’m a 14-year Independent school educator and, no, I’m neither walking picket lines nor rallying behind union-mandated job action, but I digress).

For me, the strike and job action defined by the BCTF has me pondering. In this day and age of ubiquitous learning and opportunities to learn, and incredibly talented people among us with skills and experiences to share – especially among aging boomers – I think the time has come to foster a new kind of ‘F2F Open-Source Learning’ that isn’t proscribed by union membership.
That talented, experienced people reside in every community where we live, yet are prevented from offering their skills and expertise in a local public school because they are not card-carrying union members is anachronistic and also a significant loss for learners 5-18 years.


It’s not right that highly skilled and experienced people are prevented from leading educational experiences in public schools because they are not union members. This is a form of protectionism that stymies learning for our children and young people.

Yes, there are many talented and skilled educators working diligently in public schools. Yet the ‘system’, oriented as it is to supported unionized workers, slots in the phys-ed teacher to teach physics, the biology teacher to teach language arts, the language arts teacher to teach shops. And kids are short-changed in the bargain.

It’s (past) time to dissolve the protective barrier and administrative system that has cemented this in place, and create learning centres and opportunities where those people who have worthy skills and experiences to share are welcomed as educators. It’s time that learners of all ages were supported in learning from these people among us, and were not prevented from doing so by any means.
That’s a new role for schools. And if they’re not up to the task, then let it be community-based learning centres. But let learning flourish. 


It’s time … that everyone with something of value to share is welcomed into public schools to do so, and also time that learners of all ages, but especially those 5-18 years, are welcomed in learning from those that have the most valued learning to offer.


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