An 'out-of-the-box' plan? 

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"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere else."

- Albert Einstein

Clare would do a great deal better in school if she simply controlled her imagination," my Grade 5 school report card told my parents.

I was actually a pretty good student but I remember thinking, "boy, was I going to be in trouble when my parents read that!"

What happened at the time seemed worse to me than any scolding I might have received.

My mother actually made an appointment to go see the headmistress of my school. I was mortified. I skulked the school hallways for days beforehand.

My mom was a "trouble-maker" — this just had to end badly. I was probably going to be singled out for "help."

What actually happened was that my mother went in and "respectfully" told the headmistress and the teacher what she thought of the comment — and it wasn't good.

"Imagination is the only thing that matters in the long-run," my mother told me later. Without it she said there can be no problem solving, no creativity.

And she wasn't talking about answering math drills as problem solving — she was talking about real life. Reaching goals takes a lot of creativity I've learned.

I was reminded of this childhood memory recently as an ad in Pique, "Building Our Exceptional School District Together," caught my eye. As we have been hearing for over a year now the BC Ministry of Education is working on a new Education Plan — one for 21st century learners.

The ad tells us about a way for everyone to become involved by sharing their ideas and input through a website

As I watched the videos on the education ministry website I found myself getting quite excited by the approach being adopted in this new plan. It is far-reaching and thought provoking.

"We will focus on student-centred learning, ensuring the needs, strengths and interests of each student is a priority," states the ministry website in its explanation of the plan. "Students will play a larger role in their education. Teachers will work collaboratively with students and their families. We will see greater flexibility in how a school operates. And, we will use technology as a key tool for students. (We) want to introduce personalized learning... where the needs of the student are put first."

The key competencies being strived for in the plan are: collaboration, creativity, social responsibility, healthy living, global and cultural understanding, communication, innovation, critical thinking and problem solving.

I've been observing some of this in the elementary schools here for years. My son and daughter have grown up understanding that there may be one correct answer in math but there are half a dozen ways to find it. They understand the idea of "inquiry." They understand that if they are bored in class they are not learning — that doesn't mean they are troublemakers or there is something wrong with them — it means the learning environment for that student needs to change.


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