Re-inventing the chalkboard

The province has a new plan - a new Education Plan to introduce.

Education has changed a lot since I went to school. I recall sitting in big classrooms with open windows and 25-30 classmates, usually paying attention to the teacher, but sometimes not. I remember spelling books and story books – Mr. Whiskers was my favourite – and music classes where we sang songs that were accompanied by our teacher playing the piano. I remember being totally frustrated by grade 8 math. Reading and writing were favourite subjects, along with band class.

The province had come out with a new Education Plan because the existing system “designed in the very different circumstances of an earlier century can’t possibly always meet the challenges students face…”

While I am not personally involved in education enough to see what is being taught in the classrooms and how it is being taught, a visit to our local schools on any day tells me that learning is much more informal than it was in my day, and teachers work with a wider variety of students.

But I see a lot of similarities as well – the caring relationship between teachers and (most) students is still the same, and the search for ways to challenge students to make them stretch themselves and grow.

I recall that in grade 2 we were given a lesson on using a (rotary dial) telephone. These days I’ll bet you that half the grade 2 students are carrying their own phones around with them.

In my second university, one of the school’s selling points was that it trained its students on “modern computers”. Now elementary school students are using computers (that are a heck of a lot more modern than the two old clunkers the university had), and in ways I’d never thought of before.

In the new Education Plan, the emphasis is on tailoring learning to the individual students. That’s going to be the biggest challenge – leaving behind the thinking that we already know what the students need to learn, and how they’re supposed to learn it.

Sounds like home schooling in a classroom setting. Which is an interesting idea.

If you want to read more about the plan, have a peek at www.bcedplan.ca .

Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal.