Ed­u­ca­tion needs to evolve in order to meet the de­mands of the fu­ture


If you haven’t been in a school class­room for a while, in all like­li­hood it would be quite an eye-opener to say the least.

From the much more di­verse stu­dent pop­u­la­tion to the pro­lif­er­a­tion of tech­nol­ogy to­day’s class­room is all but un­rec­og­niz­able from just a decade ago. That’s per­haps to be ex­pected since ed­u­ca­tion has to evolve in order to meet not only to­day’s needs but those of the fu­ture – which few of us can ac­cu­rately pre­dict in terms of know­ing what skills stu­dents will need then.

It is not over­stat­ing it that in many as­pects pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion in this province is at a cross­roads, and there is much to con­sider as we embark on cel­e­brat­ing Ed­u­ca­tion Week for an­other year.

As the Saskatchewan Teach­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion at­tempts to build mo­men­tum for its Re-Imag­ine Ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign, there has been a con­scious ef­fort to in­clude a wide ar­ray of or­ga­ni­za­tions, sev­eral of whom would not nec­es­sar­ily be con­sid­ered tra­di­tional ed­u­ca­tion stake­hold­ers.

In an ef­fort to cap­ture as wide a cross sec­tion of the pop­u­la­tion of the province as pos­si­ble it is very much in­tended to be a grass­roots ini­tia­tive that en­com­passes not just those who have ex­pe­ri­enced suc­cess in the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, but equally those who the sys­tem has failed.

There is a strong fo­cus on es­tab­lish­ing whether ed­u­ca­tion in its cur­rent for­mat is meet­ing the needs of all so­ci­ety. This means en­gag­ing the pub­lic in the di­a­logue as to how they see the role of the school and ed­u­ca­tion – not over­look­ing the fact that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all for­mula since the needs are of­ten as var­ied as the com­mu­ni­ties them­selves.

Ul­ti­mately ed­u­ca­tion is far too com­plex to be neatly pack­aged into a pre­scrip­tive, ar­guably ques­tion­able, set of ar­bi­trary goals that in the long run won’t serve the pur­pose the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem was in­tended to. Statis­tics and data can never be the sole for­mula for suc­cess when it comes to ed­u­ca­tion. The pri­mary goal must al­ways be to pro­duce well­rounded cit­i­zens.

The re­al­ity is that many of the fac­tors that con­tribute to stu­dent suc­cess (or lack of same in some in­stances) are well out­side the pur­vey of the school it­self. So­ci­etal ills such as poverty and in­ad­e­quate hous­ing, for ex­am­ple, can not be dis­missed as mere ex­ter­nal fac­tors since they can not be sep­a­rated from a stu­dent’s abil­ity to suc­cess­fully nav­i­gate the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

Premier Scott Moe has said that “not a wheel turns in the province with­out ed­u­ca­tion” and that is un­de­ni­ably true. Iron­i­cally though it’s a sim­ple state­ment with a com­plex and of­ten chal­leng­ing task of how do we en­hance the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

Ide­ally, by work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tively the fu­ture can some­how un­fold the way all so­ci­ety can ben­e­fit from. Ed­u­ca­tion is far too im­por­tant to be con­sid­ered an ex­pense more so than an in­vest­ment. It would be in ev­ery­one’s best in­ter­est to keep that poignant mes­sage fore­most in our think­ing. Not just dur­ing Ed­u­ca­tion Week but all year round. Most as­suredly it is worth our col­lec­tive in­ter­est and imag­i­na­tion. There is rich po­ten­tial to con­tribute to our fu­ture.

Photo: StF

The Saskatchewan Teach­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion (STF) is en­gaged in a com­pre­hen­sive re­search and pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion process that will “Re-Imag­ine Ed­u­ca­tion”. The goal is to de­velop a new vi­sion for the fu­ture of pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion based on the needs and de­sires of stu­dents, par­ents and the broader Saskatchewan com­mu­nity.

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