Some advice for BC’s new Education Minister

Following the resignation of (Curious) George Abbott last week British Columbia has a new Minister of Education: Don McRae. Let’s see, in the 22 years I’ve been a certified educator in BC we’ve had … about 15 Education Ministers! Alas, they don’t seem to have long shelf lives and if the polls for next spring’s election are any indication … oh, never mind. My point is to welcome the new Hounourable Minister to the ‘hood, and offer him some advice for strengthening BC’s education system. Here goes: 

– Keep the drive alive. The drive, that is, for Personalized Learning, first advanced by BC senior high school students opining how conventional schooling is sooo antiquated, and then shaped and enthusiastically stoked by your predecessor (Thank you Mr. Abbott). On your way in the door the education ministry also released a position paper, “Enabling Innovation: Transforming Curriculum and Assessment*”, that offers a progressive and bold vision. I can’t improve on the words of its authors on page 1 of the report: “to truly transform education, the BC education system must empower innovation throughout the province,”  though I can add that I urge you to recognize and enhance the innovations (like SelfDesign Learning) that are currently underway in the province, and to not be deterred by by BCTF [executive] blustering over this.  (*to see more on this, go here.) 

– Throw away the FSA. As one who has administered these tests for the past 6-7 years in SelfDesign I say with complete confidence that these tests are poorly conceived, they provide poor reflection of knowledge or competency by learners, and attempts to link the results to future achievements (as is now underway in your ministry) are specious at best. There are many alternate ways to create this as a meaningful event and opportunity for BC learners and students, which should be the main purpose of this activity (something that got lost a long time ago).  

– Choose Fruit Salad over a Smoothie. Linked to the first point but also recognizing that a system that is homogenized and standardized (i.e. blended) is emblematic of a “monoculture” that obliterates uniqueness (diversity) at the same time as it diminishes ‘resilience’ – now recognized as a vital capacity to weather future challenges. There are plenty of those coming our way, and cascading toward future generations. As one of the chefs in the (education system) kitchen you can help strengthen the diversity of this system. BC’s education system – serving public and independent schools – is emblematic of a diverse system, and worthy of continued support. 

Go Minister Go! 

For information on my book: Learn Your Way! SelfDesigning the Life You Really Want, Starting Now (2011) and to order a copy, go here.  

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