COLUMN: 2016 brings opportunities for new ways of learning

The curriculum is changing so young people get the best education possible, so they in turn can help support growing communities.

Mike Bernier

Guest Comment

Last fall, B.C. students and teachers continued to prepare for success in a changing world as classrooms began phasing in new curriculum that will make B.C.’s world-leading education system even better.

The new curriculum still focuses on the basics – reading, writing and arithmetic. But those are being taught in a way that students also learn the collaboration, critical thinking and communications skills they need to succeed in our changing world.

Teachers, students and parents all benefit when learning becomes more flexible. If your child is passionate about space travel, starting a business or producing videos, teachers can tap into that passion and help students build their learning around it.

Our education system is already recognized as one of the top three internationally. Why do we need to change? In part, because technology is transforming the way we live and it’s changing the way kids learn. With information at the press of a button, the education system that worked for us years ago is not as effective as it used to be for today’s young learners.

With labour stability in the classroom, parents expect us to focus on making sure their children have the skills they need to thrive in college, university and the workplace. We continue to work with the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and other educational partners to phase in new curriculum and support teachers.

What changes can you expect to see? For one, students are increasingly learning by doing, with more opportunities for hands-on experience. There is also new content, such as Aboriginal perspectives weaved throughout all grade levels and updated standards in math and sciences.

I’ve toured many schools throughout the province and it’s encouraging to see innovative teachers and students already benefiting from the new curriculum.

In September 2016, K-9 curriculum will move beyond this year’s introduction and be implemented in all B.C. school districts. Also, next September the new grades 10-to-12 curriculum will be available for teachers to use on an optional basis. In September 2017, the full K-12 curriculum will be in place.

We all have a role to play – parents, teachers, and education partners. The work we do today will have a lasting effect for decades. Imagine what today’s students could be doing five, 10, 20 years from now.

The curriculum is changing so young people get the best education possible, so they in turn can help support growing communities.

B.C.’s continued strong economic growth and fiscal discipline means that we can return dividends that make a real difference for B.C. students and parents.

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Mike Bernier is B.C.’s minister of education.