Today’s world is less about how much you know, and more about the application of what you know. This is not a novel observation, yet the more I examine the issue, the more I am convinced that this trend will continue to become an important aspect for the future success of the students in our schools today.
In my opening welcome message, I briefly touched on the fact that we have been implementing project-based, inquiry-style learning in the district for several years now. While not the only focus of the new curriculum, the move to establish this approach at the provincial level merely formalizes this cornerstone of success in our district.
Children and young adults throughout our district are no longer learning strictly in a classroom environment. Examples of stretching learning ‘beyond the classroom’ include an exciting project that will see more than 500 students competing in teams to have their zero gravity project selected to be carried out in microgravity by astronauts at the International Space Station. The entries will be competitively evaluated and short-listed to three, which will then be sent to the Smithsonian Institute for analysis and selection of the final project by a team of experts.
Being selected is part of the learning itself according to the Arthur C. Clark Institute for Space Education’s Director Dr. Jeff Goldstein. Students must understand that being successful in science goes beyond the academic credential: real scientists compete for research dollars, in the same way these students will compete for selection.
A similar approach is taken in our Young Entrepreneur and Leadership Launchpad (YELL) course, offered at the high school level. In this program, students connect with real world entrepreneurs to learn the core skills needed to develop, solve and market their idea in a venture challenge. A business plan is a key take-away from the year-long course. This approach again reflects the fact that in the real world of business, a skill set is not the only requirement for success. Competition and collaboration are key components of just about any success story in the real world, and we know that this is a key ingredient for student success, regardless of what a student chooses to do with their professional life after their education is complete.
I often hear competition is disappearing from school, whether in sports, academics or arts education. This is not true in our district, but it may not look the same as it did when perfection in a spelling bee was all it took to earn the mark of success.
I wish everyone a very pleasant and exciting year ahead and look forward to connecting with you often.
Superintendent of Schools