Creative thinking must be part of decision making 

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"I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference."

- Robert Frost

There are a lot of pathways in life and we face the choices that come with them every day.

From the moment we wake in the morning, look out the window and decide if this is the day we are going to start training for that half marathon (it wasn't this morning after all) to last thing at night when many of us fall asleep making a mental list of all the choices we are making for the following day.

For most of us there is a certain sense of satisfaction in this even if the decisions/pathways fill us with anxiety.

This mostly stems from the fact that to a certain degree we have power over the decisions we are making.

Where people start to get into real trouble is when the power to make those decisions lies somewhere else, but the outcome of those decisions impacts them directly.

There are a thousand examples of this around us every day, from how and where our taxes are spent, to the macro economy, to the whiplash we suffer when another driver hits the car we are travelling in.

Now add into that equation the resultant affects of watching the outcomes impact those you love — and understanding that those impacts could last a lifetime.

Sounds dramatic, doesn't it?

Again, people face this every day — but that doesn't make the process feel any less dramatic. Just take a moment to think about the struggle faced by many arranging the care of aging parents through a health system straining under its load.

Let's bring that scenario closer to home: there are two quite different stories unfolding here that contain the essence of this process. The first is the change starting to take place in our schools as the province, through school districts, edges closer to modernizing how kids learn. The second is the continuing saga of the helipad at the Whistler Health Care Centre.

You may recall that after a year of dealing with various issues, the million-dollar helipad re-opened in June of 2012. Originally opened in the mid 1990s, it is used as needed to get the most seriously injured off the mountain, out of the backcountry, or from car crashes and other medical emergencies to the care they need in a timely fashion.

In 2009 the helipad came to the attention of Transport Canada, which found it did not meet all the requirements for operations for either single engine or two-engine helicopters.

Transport Canada gave Vancouver Coastal Health until November 2011 to meet its safety regulations. Trees had to come down, people had to be trained to stop traffic, the landing pad needed upgrades and light standards had to be lowered and so on. In 2012 after more twists than a crime novel it finally re-opened. Whistler heaved a sigh of relief.

But guess what? It is facing closure again after cars and people refuse to obey the new signals and signs, which tell them to stay put if a helicopter is coming in to land.

Really? Just imagine how you would feel if your loved-one was on a helicopter, and landing quickly was the difference between life and death — and this was in the hands of strangers who couldn't be bothered to stop in the face of an emergency, or couldn't see the signs telling them to halt.

Meetings are underway now between VCH, the Resort Municipality of Whistler and other stakeholders to see what can be done.

Let's move on to education. With a child in elementary school and another in high school it's a subject close to my heart.

I have read and sat through meetings about the strategy behind the district's implementation of the plan to bring "21st century learning" to our school and on paper it all sounds fantastic. But I just have this niggling worry that the implementation is going to be a lot more challenging that everyone is letting on.

From my perspective as a parent I would say that for the most part this type of learning — based on big project work, sort of hands-on-learning where creativity, critical thinking, team work and adaptability are the real goals, not getting 100 multiple choice questions right — has been in place for years in our elementary schools.

The high school — not so much.

Teachers in secondary schools are hog-tied by the hundreds out "outcomes" they must achieve in the classroom in order for kids to write provincial exams. That is changing we are told so that kids will have more time for this team-based learning.

Sounds good — in fact many private schools and indeed Quest University embrace this way of education.

It's about out-of-the-box solutions — deep learning.

Perhaps that's a model that could be embraced as we work to keep the helipad open and perhaps, in school, it is time to take the new path, have faith in those leading the way and stay informed and involved.


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