Back to School? Time to Learn Your Way!

The start of September marks back-to-school time across the land (though not quite yet in BC public schools). Legions of kids are walking through school doors for the first time in several months, my daughter among them. This week she is starting her fourth year at university.

To all the children and youth re-joining the schooling ranks, here is what I wish for you this coming school year:

– that your learning path is challenging, stimulating and satisfying in many ways

– that you are offered many opportunities to build new knowledge and gain new skills in ways that are meaningful to you, on your terms

– that your educators are authentic mentors in learning, studying, testing and integrating knowledge in their areas of expertise

– that you have varying opportunities to optimize your learning, as shaped by insights from the leading-edge of learning research (neurobiology especially)

– that your learning journey is not impeded by an education system that recites old chestnuts like, “no, you can’t do that until next year,”, “sorry, that’s not on the curriculum,”, “we don’t learn like that here”, “school is the only place where ‘real’ learning takes place” and “the best students in this school get the best marks.”

Those responses frame schooling as an artifact from a bygone era, like ink wells and whale-oil lamps. Human learning is much broader than schooling and rote learning and new insights from psychologists, brain science and sociology confirm this, and many high-achieving learners follow its guideposts. In your schooling situation you or a parent* may need to advocate for new ways of learning in a system that, in many (most?) cases, is resisting change though the signs of massive, world-wide change are everywhere. (*in the past two years I’ve advocated for my daughter, repeatedly urging the Faculty of Science at UVic to overhaul its antiquated approach to testing in undergraduate courses).

Go for it is my suggestion, and learn to Learn Your Way. Being more self-responsible for your learning, while it is not emphasized in schooling today, will be a guidepost of your future.


These should be the characteristics of any education enterprise today.

Is this true in your school? If not, you may need to be an advocate.

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