This blog entry is the first by this Principal. And, I will admit that I have had several false starts and delays leading up to actually sitting down to write it. It also comes at a time, as I suppose all first attempts do, that feels like it is being inserted in the middle of a conversation, or perhaps many conversations. And, of course, it is. But, you have to start somewhere.
The impetus for engaging in this activity was a natural by-product of the journey of discovery that I have been on as part of a Peel Board Technology Team. That journey has included a number of school visits to other school boards in Canada and the U.S., as well as exposure to a wide range of print material, blogs, videos, tweets, and online materials that provide ample, if not overwhelming, arguments for the re-visioning of how schools are organizing learning environments and experiences for students. I quickly realized that I have much to learn. And, I have not been able to stop reading, talking, and sharing, about this educational “transformation” ever since. The transformation that we are now referring to as “Curriculum 21” at CPSS.
As I started down this road of exploration, I started to share resources, links, and thoughts with the teachers at Central Peel S.S. Once released into the common space, these ideas could not be put back into the box. Soon the resources, links and ideas were flowing rapidly in all directions. Teachers were putting voice to the thoughts and feelings that they were having about their own instruction and how well our school was preparing students for the life that they would be leading after graduation. The overwhelming consensus was that we needed to move immediately to bring our practice in line with the needs of our current students.
I have to fully acknowledge, reveal and embrace my place on the continuum of learning with regards to 21st century curriculum. I am an emerging, but enthusiastic, learner and leader. So, this space will house some of my learning, questions, and musings as we move forward.
There is a movement afoot. The forces that are instigating this transformation have been building for some time. The world is changing rapidly.
1. Information is no longer scarce. We live in a time when access to information can happen anytime, anywhere. And, the sheer volume of information that is produced daily is growing exponentially. Teachers, and schools, are no longer the source of all information. The teachers role, vis-a-vis information, however, has never been more important.
2. Technology is fuelling ever-increasing levels of connectedness, collaboration, networked learning, globalization, and communication. This is changing the opportunities that students have for learning, creating, sharing, and communicating their work and thoughts.
3. Learners have changed. Access to technology, learning networks, social media and mass amounts of information has actually had an effect on the way that students learn. They are what Prensky calls Digital Natives. They are demanding more personalized learning experiences and opportunities to real world work. They know that knowledge, and meaning, is socially constructed. And, they have tasted the honey! They will continue to demand more input into their own learning.
4. The requirements for success in the world of work have changed. In an era of constant change, global competition and collaboration, and rapid technological advances, employers are demanding employees with new literacies and the ability to continuously adapt, learn and change.
Education systems have been very slow in responding to these challenges. However, there is an obvious, and growing “awakening” that is happening at all levels of these systems, including CPSS.
I feel a great sense of urgency with regards to the need for this shift in education. For me, its status is now that of a ‘moral imperative’. Ken Kay, President of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, has described this movement as the civil rights of our times because surely any student that we do not fully prepare with 21st century competencies, will be relegated to low-skill, low-wage jobs.
The energy behind this transformation has reached the tipping point at Central Peel. As Will Richardson would say, we have committed to being a bold school, not an old school.