Education for the 21st Century
British Columbia has one of the best education systems in the world. Teachers are skilled, facilities are sound, and students are performing near the top of international assessments. Yet it is an education system modelled on the very different circumstances of an earlier century — when change was much more gradual than it is today. Conditions in the world are changing greatly and rapidly. Today’s students will grow into a world that is very different from and more connected than that of generations before.
To maintain high achievement, British Columbia must transform its education system to one that better engages students in their own learning and fosters the skills and competencies students will need to succeed. One focus for this transformation is a curriculum that enables and supports increasingly personalized learning, through quality teaching and learning, flexibility and choice, and high standards.
To guide the transformation, the province conducted reviews of trends in national and international jurisdictions and invited authorities on curriculum and assessment design to advise on proposed changes. In addition, as part of the work on core competencies, several commissioned researchers summarized the literature in critical thinking, creative thinking, and social and personal responsibility.
Student Success Through Curriculum Transformation
Today we live in a state of constant change. It is a technology-rich world, where communication is instant and information is immediately accessible. The way we interact with each other personally, socially, and at work has changed forever. Knowledge is growing at exponential rates in many domains, creating new information and possibilities. This is the world our students are entering.
British Columbia’s curriculum is being redesigned to respond to this demanding world our students are entering, To develop new models, the Ministry consulted with experts in the field. They suggested that to prepare students for the future, the curriculum must be learner-centred and flexible and maintain a focus on literacy and numeracy, while supporting deeper learning through concept- based and competency-driven approaches.
The redesign of curriculum maintains a focus on sound foundations of literacy and numeracy while supporting the development of citizens who are competent thinkers and communicators, and who are personally and socially competent in all areas of their lives. British Columbia’s redesigned curriculum honours the ways in which students think, learn, and grow, and prepares them for a successful lifetime of learning where ongoing change is constant.
The Educated Citizen
“A quality education system assists in the development of human potential and improves the well-being of each individual person in British Columbia society.” These words, along with the description of the educated citizen, became educational policy following the report of the Royal Commission on Education (known as the Sullivan Commission), in 1988. They continue to have meaning today.
Achieving British Columbia’s social and economic goals requires well-educated citizens who are able to think critically and creatively and adapt to change. Progress toward the achievement of these goals also depends on the province having citizens who accept the tolerant and multifaceted nature of Canadian society and who are motivated to participate actively in our democratic institutions.
To ensure the development of an educated society, government is responsible for providing all youth with the opportunity to obtain high-quality education. To that end, British Columbia’s schools assist in developing citizens who:
- Are thoughtful and able to learn and to think critically, and can communicate
- Information from a broad knowledge base
- Are creative, flexible, and self-motivated and have a positive self-image
- Are capable of making independent decisions
- Are skilled and able to contribute to society generally, including the world of work
- Are productive, gain satisfaction through achievement, and strive for physical well-being
- Are co-operative, principled, and respectful of others regardless of differences
- Are aware of the rights of the individual and are prepared to exercise the responsibilities of the individual within the family, the community, Canada, and the world
The redesigned curriculum captures these qualities, both implicitly and explicitly, in the core and curricular competencies. The concept of the educated citizen will continue to guide educational decisions for years to come, ensuring that students across the province are supported and that future generations of British Columbians are empowered by their school experience.
Personalized learning acknowledges that not all students learn successfully at the same rate, in the same learning environment, and in the same ways. It involves the provision of high-quality and engaging learning opportunities that meet the diverse needs of all students. Schools may provide flexible timing and pacing through a range of learning environments, with learning supports and services tailored to meet student needs.
Personalized learning focuses on enhancing student engagement in learning and giving students choices — more of a say in what and how they learn — leading to lifelong, self-directed learning. Students and teachers develop learning plans to build on student’s interests, goals, and learning needs. Involving students in reflecting on their work and setting new goals based on their reflections allows them to take more control of their learning. Personalized learning also encompasses place-based learning, where learning experiences are adapted to the local environment or an individual context.
** From the BC Ministry of Education website.