krispin

May 232014
 

So I got called greedy today.

I was driving to work, turned on the radio and lo and behold! The melodic sound of Christy Clark’s voice filled the passenger cabin. Apparently she is on another Sound Bytes Over Facts media tour and I was lucky enough to flip her off… I mean flip her on, just as she was calling teachers “GREEDY!”

After getting a hold of myself and resisting the urge to drive into oncoming traffic, I began to wonder. How much does a MLA cost as compared to a teacher?

We are constantly hearing how much teachers want and how much teachers cost but who costs more? Who gives the biggest bang for the tax payers buck?

Now my approach to this calculation is going to be crude, I am not going to itemize facility costs, support staff cost, supply costs. I am just going to take the total cost to run the Legislature and the total cost to run the School System and break it down on a per MLA and per Teacher basis, as if MLA’s and Teachers pocket the whole budget. So here goes nothing.

Since BC Liberals took power total MLA compensation and Legislature operational costs rose from $36 Million to $70 Million. That is a whopping 94% increase to do business in just 11 years. To add insult to injury, in 2013 MLA’s sat for only 36 days.

Tyee Spending Costs Explode
CBC No Fall Legislative Session
Globe & Mail BC Legislature Sits 36 of 572 Days
Globe & Mail Liberals, NDP Back Speaker

Compare this the operational costs of BC Schools, which went from 3.6 Billion to 4.7 billion in the same period of time. That is a 30% increase to run and organization that is 352 times bigger than the Legislature.

2001/02 funding 
2012/13 funding 

Greedy Tax Suckers
Cost To Do Business
Increase Since 2001
Number of Greedy
Days
In Session
Daily Greed Index
MLA's$70,000,00094%8536$22,000 : 1
Teachers$4,700,000,00030%30,000186$842 : 1

Although there is a segment of the population who will read this and immediately jump to the tired old refrain of “Quit your whining and get to work”. My hope that my readers who are remotely rational, will see the absurdity of a someone like Christy Clark saying “Teachers cost too much, teachers are greedy”, when she is sucking off the tax payer’s teat harder than anyone.

So this is my message to Ms. Clark.

Before you go pointing a finger at someone and calling them greedy, perhaps you should check your narcissism at the door and realize there are three other fingers on your hand pointing directly back at you.

It is people like Christy who give politicians a bad name

Note: These numbers are based on a simple Internet search. If someone has more accurate numbers, please share.

May 072014
 
IMG_3913

Our Printer – Cat NOT included

3D printing in my classroom has taken over my life. I need to go to 3DPA (3D Printing Anonymous) post-haste. Last night was the final straw as I was flopping and flipping about, trying to figure out how I am going to get 30 student 3D print jobs completed before the end of the year.

Since this very cool piece of machinery arrived in my classroom May 1st, I have been doing everything in my power to get the kids up and running. Creating their own 3D objects to print before year’s end. The main focus has been figuring out how kids can create bobble heads of themselves.

The machine we decided to purchase the Flash Forge 3D printer based on the reviews we found on-line and ultimately the price point. As conscientious educators, we had to seek out a product that would provide us the most bang for our buck and I think we hit the mark. So far the printer has been bomb-proof and worked right out of the box. One of the extruders is a bit finicky but I think it is just a simple matter of finding the right setting. The biggest challenge is capturing an image that you can actually print.

We have had a varying success over the past three weeks trying to capture and render a 3D image of ourselves. Our first go round we were following a guide from a website called Instructables. It used an app called 123D capture to collect our images and render a 3D model. Unfortunately, of the 30 kids in the class, only 4 of them managed to capture and render an 3D object worthy of printing.

This is not to say that this particular method wasn’t any good just that it wasn’t intuitive or efficient enough to get a classroom of 30 kids up and running without a lot of hand holding and troubleshooting.  I would still recommend reading the guide as it has a lot of good information for preparing the capture for printing so it is still worth a perusal.

Enter Skanect

I stumbled upon this bit of 3D capture software while looking for another method of capturing 3D images that was quicker and less fussy. Essentially it is a brilliant piece of software that allows you to hack the scanning power of the XBox Kinect and employ it to do a 3D scan of pretty much anything you want.

Now all I need to do is connect my Kinect to my laptop using a $2.99 adaptor from Amazon, fire up the software, sit a kid down in an office chair, line them up into the scan zone and tell them to slowly rotate around for 30 – 50 seconds. Voila! Bob’s your uncle and you have a 3D scan of yourself.

The following scan of pretty old me took 15 minutes from scanner to printer. Kids work coming soon.

ScanningRendered ImageCleaned up Image
PrintingFinished ProductPainted

Resources

Here are some 3D scanning and editing resources worth checking out.

Skanect – 3D scanning with your XBox kinect scanner

Instructables – Great resource for learning how to creating 3D objects for printing (FREE & Paid)

123D – 3D capture software. On and offline versions (FREE)

Meshmixer – Great little 3D editing tool for prep your images for printing (FREE)

Sculptris – An AWESOME 3D sculpting too worth checking out (FREE)

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 302014
 

Well here we are… At the end of another course for another term. I have to say this one was a lot of work but I think I survived but we shall see when the grades come out.

This weeks Blog post is supposed to answer the question, “What will future learning environments look like?” and my short answer is… I haven’t the foggiest.

Actually that is not true, there is one thing I can be certain of. Learning environments of tomorrow won’t look anything like the learning environments of today.

There you have it, the sum of my collective wisdom but I suppose my prof might like a little more insight so I guess I have to give a long answer.

I think it is safe to say that future learning environments will be a lot messier than they are today. For better or worse, the regimented, orderly Victorian school model we were all brought up in  is quickly going the way of the Dodo. The extinction of this 300 year old educational paradigm has caused a great deal of distress for many and for good reason. This is what we know, this is what has worked for 300 years and this is what brought us to this point in history. Why throw it out?

People genuinely feel that we are on the brink of a change that may lead the world to ruin and they may be right or they may be wrong. That is the thing with change, you can never predict the result with 100% accuracy. So where are we headed?

I think the biggest and most immediate changes will being at the top and move their way down to the lower grades and much of this will be driven by the economy not technology. We are already seeing kids question why they should bother going to University if becoming gainfully employed once they are done is a crapshoot at best. A university education is no longer a ticket to a prosperous existence. As a result, young adults are starting to assess their education needs rather than blindly heading to University because that is “just what you do.” The result of this is that the one size fits all on masse education system is crumbling from the top down.

Young adults are now faced with either going through the motions of a traditional university education or doing something that allows them to become gainfully employed without acquiring a mass of educational debt. It is here where you can begin to see the engine behind the personalized learning movement.

If a young adult can become educated in a field that interests them and provides them with gainful employment without 4, 5, 6+ years of university education, then why wouldn’t they take that opportunity? If we can start a young adult down that road when they are 16 and have them become a useful tax paying citizen before they are middle-aged, why wouldn’t we?

It doesn’t take much to see how starting from the top and working our way down the grades, personalized purpose driven education can begin to take hold. The problem is, how deep do we go? Don’t we need a common education by which we can build our society around? If we allow our children to specialize too soon, doesn’t that deprive our children from educational opportunities down the line as they get older?

These are good question that need to be considered but in the same breath, having our population of young adults warehoused indefinitely in post secondary institutions just because “that is the way it has always been done”, isn’t very good for them or society either.

In a world where university dropouts have proven to be just as capable of success as the long tortured university graduate, you begin to wonder if encouraging kids to go through the motions of a lengthy prescribed education program is really the best thing for everyone?

Don’t get me wrong… Education is good. Your odds of living a happy, healthy, productive life still go up if you attend a Post Secondary program but is there a better way?

So back to the original question. What will future learning environments look like? With the aforementioned in mind, here are my predictions.

  1. Learning will become ever more connected and dependent on the internet.
  2. If schools don’t deliver the curriculum they desire, students will develop their ares of interest outside of the school setting.
  3. If skills learned outside of the school setting begin to be recognized by employers as valuable and relevant we will begin to see an increase in High School Drop out and a decline in Post Secondary attendance.
  4. Organizations like Degreed will continue to recognize and give credence to work and learning done outside of the formal setting.
  5. In the digital world, programs like Mozilla Badges and Google’s Certification will continue to grow and allow learners to showcase their learning and skills outside of the formal educational setting.
  6. Hands on learning opportunities will become more in demand and traditional lecture style learning will decline significantly.
  7. Student will have to become more independent and self motivated as teachers stop dragging kids through the curriculum.
  8. Assessment will become more about show me rather than test me.
  9. Thousands of students will be left behind in this transition from old school to new school.
  10. The age of Free Agent Learning will become the order of the day.

For better or worse this is my prediction for the future of learning in the Western World.

There is one factor that may throw a monkey wrench into the who thing, which is probably worth a mention and that is the way we parent our children these days. Today’s parents have this strange compulsive need to engineer their children’s lives and this need for control fly’s in the face of what 21st First Century Learning is all about.

Parents these days won’t let their children be independent, experiment, inquire, free play or god forbid fail. Everything a child does these days has to be a carefully engineered exercise, maximized for optimum learning.

21st Century Learning is about independence and letting go of control over the child. 21 Century Parenting is all about complete control of every aspect of a child’s life. The two are completely incompatible.

Mar 152014
 

This weeks topic is MOTIVATION or lack there of.

I am supposed to answer why and how I stay motivated to be a lifelong learner, specifically as it pertains to this program I am currently in. I suppose I should start with the things that will get me bonus marks which consists of a little must see video by RSA. It encompasses all the reasons I am doing this program.

This video looks at a number of motivators that drive us namely Money, Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose and is rooted in the research of Edward L. Deci. There is also a very good book by Daniel Pink called Drive – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates us.

I will tell your now that yes one of the reasons I am doing this program is so I can get paid more. I know… greedy no good teachers shouldn’t get paid anything! They should be forced to work for nothing and live in jail like cells, only to be let out for the school day then back in when their work day is done. (how can you tell it is contract negotiation time again?)

But in line with all the “right motivators”, the other reason I am doing this is that I want to become more autonomous in the work I do. In the public school system the only way you can become more autonomous is to do something no one else is doing. As the vice of scrutiny continues to clamp down on teachers and what they do in the classroom, professional autonomy is on the decline. It is my hope that by doing something that most people are not doing and has yet to have a defined role within the school system, I will be afforded more autonomy in my career going forward.

The mastery piece of my motivation is for the most part, well under way. I know stuff about educational technology that most teachers don’t and as a result, I get asked to do stuff for others on a fairly regular basis. The problem is, that I don’t have that piece of paper that says I am a master of this area of expertise. Yes I get a lot of attention and work because of what I know but I would like to further this knowledge and formalize my “mastery”

The purpose piece is easy. I see a purpose in what I do with technology. I do not view myself as a particularly good classroom teacher. To be quite frank, on some days I feel like I am a fish out of water but when I am working with technology and helping others use it constructively, I am comfortable. It is something I believe I do well and so my purpose is to get myself into a position where I can help others effectively use technology as a teaching tool.

The final motivator I will discuss is the one which is driving me to complete this post as quickly as possible. I have a flight to Maui I need to catch and if I don’t finish this post… I am going anyhow.

Cheers!

Gonna put the world away for a minute 
Pretend I don’t live in it 
Sunshine gonna wash my blues away 

Knee Deep – Zac Brown Band

 

 

 

Mar 092014
 

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 6.48.47 PMWell here we are once again, typing like a fiend on a Sunday night. Shiraz in one hand Macbook in the other, sitting at my dining room table. There is something therapeutic about this combination but I must say, it is hardly a poetic. Before this program is over my goal is to write something while sitting at Le Dôme in Paris. I will leave you to figure out why this is significant.

If anything, this Masters program is keeping my Google rankings up because I am cranking out content on a weekly basis. Not only am I getting all edumacated, I am moving up the Google charts for a variety of keywords.

As coincidence would have it, this would be an example of a 21st Century Skill that people should have and it is referred to as  SEO or Search Engine Optimization. Recently it has been rebranded for the lay person as the “Positive Digital Footprint”.

I wouldn’t say this is a do or die skill but if you are going to operate in the wired world and get recognized for your work, you need to know how to leverage the net for you benefit.

The problem is that schools spend so much time “protecting” our kids and shielding them from prying eyes on the web, this isn’t really something that schools see as something that should be taught. Yet for an adult who wants to get noticed and make a living these days, it is kinda important to create a positive digital footprint that people can find. See more at Teach Hub

Although I get ragdolled by my colleagues for promoting or trumpeting the importance of my second skill, I still think it is perhaps THE MOST important of 21st Century Skills. That is being a Free Agent Learner. The days of looking at education as a means to an end are gone. There is no endpoint to our education any longer, we have to continually be learning and if you cannot do this on your own, you are screwed.

Actually I think being a Free Agent Learner is more of a composite skill than a skill all of its own. To be a really good Free Agent Learner you need to have three things.

Reading Skills - I do not care what anyone says, the ability to read well trumps all other learning skills and will remain as such until I am long gone. It is such an efficient way to gather information that there is simply nothing even in this high-tech world that can compare.

Communication skills – I was about to put down writing skills but here is an old school skill that has given way to modern technology. Yes writing is the primary communication skill of a Free Agent Learner but it has given way to other means of expression as of late, primarily video and podcasts. Getting the message out seems to be easier than getting the message in.

Will / desire / purpose – Up until today I would have put this down but after seeing the Tony Robins Ted Talk (Yes I said Tony Robins) I would have to say this is the glue that keeps it all together. I think Robins referred to it as “emotion”. Now I don’t think this is actually a skill but it is crucial to being a Free Agent Learner. It is the realization that you have to be dependant on others for your learning and your future. Steve Jobs put it very well in this really short clip 

Problem Solving / Critical Thinking Skills are one of the Trendy 21st Century learning skills that everyone and their dog are espousing as Critical to a child’s future. The problem is, kids are not allowed to problem solve or think critically any longer.

Kids don’t have to  make decisions of even the simplest of kind because we the adults have created a thought free bubble in which they live.  In the 2009/10 season of CBC’s Doc Zone they produced an episode called Hyper Parents & Coddled Kids which masterfully brought to light just how engineered our children’s lives have become, something we now call helicopter parenting.

The irony here is that even though we have come to realize kids can’t think for themselves because we have over engineered their lives, we think the solution can be found through creating even more engineered learning opportunities so they can think critically and problem solve.

I have an idea, how bout turning off the Xbox and throwing them outside for a couple of hours each day so they can problem solve and think critically all their own. See some examples of just how it was done back in the day

Collaboration is the last of the 21st Century skills I will share in this post and I figure I would start with saying I hate collaboration. I know (((GASP))) Take away his teaching certificate! He is a wretched, wretched man for  speaking such heresy… but it is true.

I use to play along with all those collaboration crazed people because I thought that it was what I had to do but then Susan Cain came along and reassured me that not playing well with others was ok.

As Ms. Cain puts it: The bias against introversion leads to a colossal waste of talent, energy, and happiness.

I work with kids every day that do amazing work all on their own but stick them in a group they fall by the wayside. Now don’t get me wrong, people who collaborate are important and we need to teach kids how to do this but does it need to be the end all and be all of 21 Century Learning?

There needs to be a place for those who do their best all by themselves. More Susan Cain Quotes

I know there are dozens of other 21st Century skills out there I could have chosen and probably should have included but I gotta go to bed. G night.

Feb 232014
 

magpie

EDCI – 335  Blog Post #6

Attention is a scarce commodity in schools these days. Some students can muster a few minutes of it, while others can barely pay enough attention to determine what class they are sitting in. In the past 17 years, I have seen a definite shift in the ability of kids to pay attention. I have anywhere between 30 seconds and  5 minutes to get my point across at the beginning of class and that is about it.

Even the tried and true such as showing a movie in class is lost on most kids these days. You can pretty much forget about asking kids to identify a plot line, a theme or moral imperative within even the best that hollywood has to offer. Unless the movie you are showing starts off with either a gratuitous sex scene, a gunfight or aliens having gratuitous sex in the middle of a gunfight, kids just aren’t interested.

So where does this leave us teachers?

The question we are struggling with at this point is. Are teachers just not effectively utilizing digital teaching tools to engage students, or is technology simply leading the human race to ruin?

The biggest problem here is that we do not have enough longitudinal data to be able to point a finger at any one digital innovation and say “SEE!!! Satan lives within!” We also don’t have enough information on how to effectively utilize technology to engage kids and maximize learning. All we can go by is what we see before us in our classrooms and the anecdotal evidence is mounting. The digital world has changed how our children learn and interact with the world.

The thing about the digital world is that everything is designed to demand your immediate attention. Our devices and our social networks constantly beckon us and demand a response. It is like some sort of digitized Pavlovian experiment where instead of a bell, there is a notification sound or buzz in your pocket and the reward is a little message instead of a chunk of meat.

Our need for recognition and adulation from our peers via social media has become so all-consuming that we interrupt virtually anything to check our messages. The Retrevo Gadgetology Report in 2010 looked at data from 1000 social media users and discovered that some people are even willing to interrupt sex in order to check their messages. Now last I checked, sex takes ones full attention… usually. If digital technology is powerful enough to pull you away from perhaps the most enjoyable human interaction of all, teachers don’t have a hope in hell in keeping their student’s attention whilst regaling them with the finer points of Shakespeare soliloquies.

Gigi Vorgan & Gary Small wrote in their 2009 book iBrain that:

When paying partial continuous attention, people may place their brains in a heightened state of stress. They no longer have time to reflect, contemplate, or make thoughtful decisions. Instead they exist in a state of constant crisis-on alert for a new contact or bit of exciting news or information at any moment. Once people get use to this state, they tend to thrive on the perpetual connectivity. It feeds their egos and sense of self-worth and it becomes irresistible.

How we go about competing with this state of perpetual attention seeking in a classroom is a bit of a mystery at the moment. If Vorgan and Small are correct, the very things we are trying to get kids to do in the classroom are effectively hamstrung by this constant need for digital affirmation. Of course the simplistic solution is just banning the device from the classroom but that doesn’t work because your students spend the entire class jonesing for their digital fix.

The simple thinkers in the crowd (usually politicians) then say… “Well then if they are glued to the device all the time then start delivering curriculum through it!” but the kids are not interested in the device so much as the kind of message it delivers. How do you go about breaking curriculum into snippets of information that “feeds their egos and sense of self-worth” so kids will internalize it? Personally I don’t think we need to butcher our curriculum to suit the digitally dependant.

As much as I love technology, I don’t think the solution can be found with more technology. I work with kids everyday who have managed to find a balance between digital and non digital learning environments. The can read, think, reflect and do all those things we have expected of kids in days gone by and then they can turn around and use technology to demonstrate their learning with some amazing results. As much as I would like to claim these kids have found this balance by way of a teacher such as myself, more often than not it is because of their parents digital use policy at home.

To solve our problems in the classroom involving digital technology, we need kids to have home environments where access to digital devices is not unlimited or unmonitored. A home where phones are not welcome at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table and the digital device is never used as a pacifier. Books should be paper and plentiful and never should attending to your cellphone be more important that attending to your child.

Paying attention to something isn’t something kids only do at school. In fact it starts long before they ever set foot in our classroom. As with everything, a good foundation begins at home.

Feb 092014
 

Child with learning difficultiesThis week I have been asked to share a memorable learning experience and based on this weeks readings, explain why it was memorable. The problem is… I don’t remember much about my “learning” back in the day. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, not many ah ha! moments or warm fuzzy revelations carefully engineered by some master pedagogue. Quite frankly my grade school experience was a struggle filled mostly with misery and frustration.

When I got this assignment the first thing I did was dig up the first and last Psych Ed assessment I ever had done. It was done way back in 1987 and I was trying to get into University. Doors were repeatedly shut in my face because I simply didn’t have the marks to get into any institution of higher learning. Then one day, I stumbled upon a research project at the University of Alberta that was looking at Learning Disabilities. It was this project that got my foot in the post secondary door. The only condition was I had to be a part of the LD project and they would let me take one course, Psych 100.

This psych ed assessment was the first step in establishing that I wasn’t the moron that grade school had led me to believe. It was a relief in many ways, as it pointed out some significant deficits in my short-term memory, auditory learning  and visual discrimination. Learning about why I didn’t “lern nun so gud” was an educational turning point for me.

Going through the materials for this weeks assignment made me realize that the past 40 years of my formal “learning” has all revolved around people and events; I guess this would be considered episodic memory I suppose. I remember in pictures not facts or details. I remember how to physically do things and demonstrate it but could never verbally explain it.  I can’t remember passages from books or poetry, I struggle with my times tables to this day, I forget most of what I read almost immediately after my eyes pass over it… This is my learning life and this has been this way for as long as I can’t remember.

I wish I could give you all an example of some wonderful learning experience I had over the years but quite frankly there hasn’t been any, or perhaps I should say if there has been I don’t remember it. All I know is that somehow information got into the vacuous space between my ears we call a brain.

The only thing I can share with you that I feel has shaped my learning over these many years comes from my very patient and understanding parents.

  1. People don’t care why you can’t do something they just want it done.
  2. University requirements are what they are. Meet them or don’t.
  3. All we expect is that you do the best you can.
  4. You can always make a living at the end of a shovel.
  5. If all else fails be nice, kind and helpful.

That is it… Nothing to see here now move on.

 

 

 

Feb 022014
 

What do I want to accomplish?

Well I think I need to start at what I think the ideal classroom is like. I would like to create a space that is messy, free of coercion and mistakes are the accepted rule rather than the rare exception. I want a classroom where marks don’t matter and making stuff work is reward enough.

I know “that there is just pie in the sky thinking” but what if it was possible?

After 18 years of slugging it out in the trenches, teaching a course(s) to that kids don’t really want have to sit through but it is a graduation requirement so they endure it. I have an opportunity to create something that might come close to resembling the description above.

I currently have a classroom full of IT kids who are almost entirely self-directed and happy to try anything I hand to them so why not try to expand this program and bring in stuff they can make things out of.

This is the idea behind the Maker Movement, where we have kids and teachers creating with their hands using the academic skills we have given them. Coding for example, is a marriage of Math and English skills. Forcing kids to think their way through problems, come with solutions and eventually their code becomes an Art form, which manifests itself on a computer screen or in physical object such as robot. Raspberry Pi has given us access to a whole new world of creating through computing.

The other thing this Raspberry Pi project will expose students to is the world of open source and instil in them that their learning shouldn’t be bound by the walls of the school. I am in no way under the illusion that I will be the keeper of all information for this project and I am not selling it as such. I will be relying heavily on open source resources to conduct this class and I will be encouraging kids to do the same in their own learning. In the spirit of Open Source this will be an open classroom.

So there we go, my airy fairy description of what I want to accomplish with Design Learning.

 

 

Jan 232014
 

iStock_000033215132SmallWelcome to this weeks instalment of Questions to Ponder for Learning Design #EDCI 335

This weeks question is:  Are our current schools / teachers / curriculum preparing students for the 21st century?

I am going to start off by saying that the problem with this question is that it is a tad misleading. It would suggest that the role of grade school is to prepare our children for the world but it isn’t. Grade school is designed to prepare kids for further education once they graduate from high school. Preparing kids for the real world is no longer part of our mandate.

Personally I think kids should be able to walk out of high school and become gainfully employed right out of the gate. When I say gainfully employed, I am not talking having a 100K a year job, driving a Porsche and living like a Gangsta. I am talking a good job that provides a living wage and an opportunity to improve their lot in life with hard work and further education. If this was the case then asking: Are our current schools/teachers/curriculum preparing students for the 21st century? My answer would be an emphatic NO!

Unfortunately, over the past 30+ years, under the guise of the tired old mantra, “You need a good education to get a good job”. Society has chosen to warehouse young adults in post secondary institutions, rather than employ them. So ingrained is this “Must go to school” mentality, post secondary education has become a multi billion dollar industry unto itself. At times it would seem that the primary purpose of education is to extract money from parents back accounts, rather than create employees of the future.

In reality kids graduating from high school today don’t need to be ready for the 21st Century, they need to be prepared to spend another 4+ years in a post secondary institution doing exactly what they were doing in high school. So if this is the inevitable plight of our children, my answer to this weeks question is YES! The existing school system does exactly what is required to prepare our children for their continued academic incarceration in the 21st Century.

Unrealistically, I would like to not lecture at all; not as the result of being shown the door by my employer, as will happen soon enough, but because lectures are a terrible way to teach. Since I am scheduled to give them, and can’t see how to provide one-on-one instruction to the nearly 200 students enrolled on the course, I know that I shall in fact stand up and talk for 50 minutes twice a week for 12 weeks – Alan Ryan, 2014.

The problem is that grade school is designed to keep kids from engaging with the real world, not to go out and be embraced by it. Even if we did make kids work ready by the time graduation rolls around, the only thing waiting for them is starvation wages and poverty. The reality is that what we have here is an 21st Century employment problem, not a 21st Century school problem.

I work with kids on a daily basis that are bright, capable and phenomenally talented and need nothing more than to see the light at the end of the tunnel. They could be and should be in the work world making themselves useful to society. Instead they are trapped in a system that insists on “educating them” indefinitely before deeming them worthy of a living wage.

The thought I frequently bandy about in my mind is this.  What if the solution is not to look for a 21st century solution but backwards to the 19th century. Instead of marginalizing our youth in a world of never-ending academia, why don’t we turn them loose to participate in the adult world sooner? The role of school / teachers / curriculum would be to provide “in progress” academic support for kids who are engaged with the real world. We already do this to a small degree with Apprenticeships and Co-ops but why are these programs not the norm rather than the exception?

The question posed is far bigger than any single school, teacher or curriculum. It is a question that needs to be answered by students, parents, teachers, business people and politicians. 

  • If you want work ready kids by grade the end of grade 12, the business world needs to provide living wages for them when they get out.
  • If you want to change what schools / teachers / curriculum teach, then you have to change what qualifies for graduation.
  • If you want to change what constitutes high school graduation, you need post secondary to institutions to change entry requirements.
  • If you want grade school teachers to support each child’s specific interests or “passion”, then provide the resources and the time to make it happen.
  • If you want us to change our teaching practice, then provide us with the time, resources and professional development to do it.
  • If critical thinking, innovation, resilience, adaptability and effort are what is most important in school, then stop placing so much emphasis on grades and value what really counts.

Our schools and teachers are more than capable of delivering a 21st Century education, it is the outside world that needs to do a better job in helping the new age of learning to come to fruition.

Some facts and figures

Registered apprenticeship completions, Canada, 1995 to 2007

Post Secondary Enrolment Trends to 2031

Unemployment Dynamics of Canada’s  Youth

University Tuition Rising to Record Levels in Canada