Going from “Back to the Basics” to BETTER…

Recently, an editorial appeared in the Edmonton Journal with the headline “Alberta Education’s radical curriculum reforms will damage economy, limit our children’s future.” Wow! Definitely worth a read if you are an educator.

Brutal. They make so many bad or unproven assumptions, it is amazing something like this was published. It assumes the old system was good. I did awesome in the old system because I could memorize, not because I could think. It did not prepare me at all for later life. I think it is our job to give our kids a BETTER education than the one we received!

I am not even going to start going over the in accuracies and brutal assumptions contained within this editorial. Instead, I am going to go with my heart and my passion in my response.

Education is a growing and changing field. Even over the course of my career, it has grown and changed immensely, from changes in assessment and formative assessment, extensive development of educational and assistive technologies, the way we report and work with parents, the way that learning takes place in language arts, mathematics, arts, physical education, and how we work with students social, emotional, and psychological needs.

Sorry folks, education is changing and getting better. We are learning more every day about how the brain works and about how students learn, and that drill and kill is just not the best way to learn.
I don’t know about you, but my education did not teach me how to think, be a critical thinker, be a reflective thinker, be creative thinker, or how to be able to be an effective learner. I was excellent and at being able to replicate what the teacher did on the board during math without any understanding of why  I was doing but I was doing. I was excellent at memorizing and reading a book and being able to remember the information it until the test, then lost that information immediately because I did not need it for more than the test.
The moment this changed was when I found the desire to become an educator. All of the sudden, my work in University became important and authentic, so there was a reason I was learning and beyond the test at the end of the course. I went on to get an excellent GPA, went on to get a masters degree in education, and went on to become a current principal. Now it all made sense and there was a reason that I was learning what I was learning.
I loved many of my teachers and no they tried to do their best. Education looked differently back in the 1970s and 80s when I was a student in school. If it did NOT look different, that would be when we need to be concerned!
I love my job because I am always learning. There is no binder that I can pull off the shelf to tell me how to do my job, what the right budget and staffing scenario looks like, or how to work with any specific student.
I don’t want to go back to the “Good ol’ days,” as they just were not that good. We need to look at creating a BETTER education for our children, rather than going back…
Work hard, learn tons!

8 Responses to Going from “Back to the Basics” to BETTER…

  1. Arruda, Oyelusi, MacKenzie and Thibeau says:

    We looked at the Social unit that we have been planning on Communities. Students will first look at pictures from the past and discuss the differences they see compared to today. The next step will involve students picking out the parts of their community (schools, fire, police, transportation, etc.) and create them using recycled materials. Each student will also build a house out of popsicle sticks. Working collaboratively, the class will create a community with all the individual items they made. Mike will help students, using an app on the iPad, to create a verbal explanation of their piece of the community.
    We also booked S4 presentations for our classes.

  2. harjyote and brianna says:

    In grade 3 we are looking at our Building Unit. We want to create a project that is cross curricular and uses the information that they have been researching in Social Studies, with regards to communities around the world and quality of life. The students will be given some more background information about different climates around the world. We will be asking them to bring in a variety of materials to build with. Each student will be asked to design and build a home that will withstands a particular severe climate (wind, rain, cold, heat). They will be asked to choose their materials, design the building, test the building and then evaluate the effectiveness of their design and material choice.
    As we begin the project changes may need to be made to meet student interest and needs.

  3. The Grade 6 Team says:

    The Grade 6 team spent some time preparing for an upcoming art project using real canvases! We are excited to give the students the opportunity to create a lasting work of art. We also spent time with the Learning Commons teacher, planning a supplementary project to complement our Air and Flight science unit.

  4. Claire, Vanessa, and Heather says:

    In Kindergarten we are beginning to look more in-depth at researching. This week we have been learning about the sound ER/IR and discussing Beaver’s in particular. Students are beginning to ask inquisitive, detailed questions about information they want to know about, which is so exciting. With this in mind, e also discussed creating innovative learning opportunities for our upcoming field trips. We have GREEN Calgary coming in on Monday introducing a program called “Worms Love Leftovers”. We talked about introducing some information prior to the program with a fictional book, as well as information books to get the students minds on topic. As well, we will be introducing a “RAN” (Reading and Analyzing Nonfiction) chart which is similar to a KWL chart. This will give our students the opportunity to brainstorm ideas that they ‘think they know’, and what they’re ‘wondering’. As the research builds, we will refer back to the chart about ‘confirmed’ information (i.e.: ideas that they thought they knew that were infact true), and ‘misconceptions’ (i.e.: ideas that turned out to be false). With the introduction of worms, we will be starting a vermicompost in our class which will give students hands-on experience working with these creatures! We also touched on some topics that we will be discussing prior to our visit to Fish Creek Provincial Park at the end of the month. For example, having a conversation between the differences of a “playground” park, and a natural park. We are looking forward to where these conversations will lead and having follow-up conversations about what we learned after these programs.!

  5. Bent says:

    Today the grade 5 team discussed wrapping up our current science and social units. We discussed the expectations for the final projects and end dates. We looked ahead at out next social unit and booked a field trip to the Glenbow museum.

  6. Grade Two Team says:

    CILO – April 9/14

    This week the grade two team examined student work related to descriptive writing. We are currently completing Pirate Writing projects and wanted to review our progress. We created writing booklets for students with juicy words, sentence starters and creative story beginnings. The students will be able to use the booklets to assist them with their creative writing. We also examined some narrative stories we could use as examples for students. As a grade team we discussed and examined resources we could use to assist students in building independence in their writing. We also began brainstorming for our next science unit and potential arctic games at the school.

  7. The Grade 4 Teamsters says:

    Today the grade 4 group discussed the progress in our poetry unit and exchanged ideas on engaging the students in the creative process. We decided to have students present their final product to either their classmates or grade 1 buddies rather than our initial idea of a Grade 4 community cafe. We created rubrics to help the students in their self assessment by reviewing their completed work in Social Studies and Science. We shared ideas on our upcoming Stories unit and how we will use what we have learned in Poetry to scaffold into more structured writing.

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