Alta states: Live, work, play 

Pemberton, the GEMS school and Jordan Sturdy

click to enlarge Jordan Sturdy weights in
  • Jordan Sturdy weights in

I have a thing for education. Call me nerdy. Call me oddball even. But I think learning is cool. In fact, I predict the 21 st century is going to be all about pedagogy.

Say what? You heard me — the future is going to be all about learning how to learn. Whether it’s new languages or new computer skills, math literacy or simply knowing how to read properly, those who actually learn how to learn will find themselves with the tools to adapt and thrive in the fast-changing world of tomorrow. Meanwhile, those who remain in the same spot, treading water and trying not to be subsumed by the tsunami of new stimuli, will drown. It’s that simple.

Okay. So I’m not talking conventional schooling here. I’m talking the future.

Try, for just a moment, to put aside your previous conception of what “school” means. Now imagine lifelong learning centres where students and teachers are excited about attending classes there. Places that stimulate and challenge and push individuals to raise their game to the next level. Institutions that offer all sorts of different learning methods and relevant teaching modes; that actually inspire people to think rather than just mimic.

To me it’s a no-brainer (if you’ll excuse the pun). Learning is fun if it’s presented in the proper context. And it makes life way more interesting. I mean, everybody has an anecdote about a favourite renegade teacher who turned their school experience around. Each of us, in our own hearts, knows how easy it is to be touched by the learning muse.

Now if you push that kind of thinking to its logical extremes, it becomes immediately apparent that mountain resort communities provide eminently suitable environments to experiment with different learning and teaching models.

Why? Because they’re fun places to hang out. They’re youthful places and they attract outgoing, passionate, risk-taking people who aren’t afraid to try new things. Besides, the mountain environment offers its own inspiring dimensions. Seriously — would you rather attend a seminar in downtown Toronto or one at the base of Aspen?

More importantly, from an economic perspective, mountain tourism and education complement each other perfectly. Think about it: is a university campus really different in atmosphere than the Whistler towncentre? Not all that much actually…

We can talk about diversification all day long, but when push comes to shove there aren’t a lot of industries that are compatible with tourism. B.C.’s traditional extraction businesses certainly aren’t. It turns out that education is one of the few sectors that is.


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