George Abbott revealed his new plan for education in BC last week (along with legislation creating the new teachers council… more on that at a later date). The plan outlines a plan to take education out of the post-industrial era into the blossoming world of digital 21st Century Learning. But what exactly does the plan say about learning and technology. Here is the excerpt from the plan related to technology:
Teachers will take on the role of facilitators to learning and will provide opportunities for students to explore and engage learning at their own pace. Experiential learning will engage the student like nothing else can and transform the classroom into a place of fun and wonder. Sound familiar? Well of course it does… it’s the mantra of 21st Century Learning right? Well yes, but ever hear of Maria Montessori? Take a look at this graphic and see if you notice any similarities:
The role of the teacher is to facilitate learning at the students own pace through the use of concrete (hands-on) materials. Assessment is built into the method and only when the child has mastered a ‘skill’ are they encouraged to proceed to the next step. Has George Abbott taken a page out of Maria Montessori’s playbook? No but people like Sir Ken Robinson sure have. All the buzz around 21st Century Learning makes it sound like new innovation when in fact it has been in existence for over 100 years. Concrete materials now include iPads and computers… the teacher as a supervisor has always been part of sound pedagogy… and students being allowed to pursue a topic to the extent they wish has been a desire of teachers everywhere. Government can allow 21st Century Learning to take place by taking the reigns of teachers and providing them the infrastructure to engage the ‘new media literacies’ at their own pace and to level of comfort and desire. Reducing the curricular loads on courses is a good first step and the one part of this plan I acknowledge as a step in the right direction. But let’s not be fooled into thinking that government and innovation are synonymous… the new BC Education Plan has simply taken a method developed in the slums of Italy and wrapped it up in a shiny new package.
To read the BC Education Plan please click the following link: BC Education Plan