Teachers Association likes education commission

NDP leadership candidate Mike Farnworth's idea to convene a Royal Commission on education is plays well with local teachers

  • Thu Mar 3rd, 2011 6:00pm
  • News

Nearly a quarter century after the 1987 Royal Commission on education, NDP leadership candidate Mike Farnworth says he believes it’s time for a new evaluation.

While speaking to a group of NDP supporters at the Rotary Centre for the Arts Wednesday, Farnworth confirmed another comprehensive look at schooling in this province is indeed a part of his platform, saying he’s had a lot of positive feedback on the idea.

“If you told people back in 1988 that you would be choosing the leader of a party by going to a computer or phone, you would have been laughed out of the room,” he said. “Technology alone has changed how education takes place.”

Farnworth said his tour of the province is basically to test ideas out as he works toward the April 17 NDP leadership convention and he has no idea who he would choose to head up such an undertaking.

For the Central Okanagan Teachers’ Association president Alice Rees, it’s an intriguing idea nonetheless.

Rees said the Sullivan Commission generated some good discussion, though she was disappointed when some of the ideas, like adding more professional development for teachers, never materialized.

Given the global economy students face upon graduation, and the speed at which technology is changing the way people act and think, Rees said teachers face challenges like never before to adequately prepare students to keep pace.

On the other hand, she also points out the Central Okanagan School District has, thus far, been well ahead of the province in doing so.

The school district adopted a quality assessment model that essentially does what the new provincial 21st Century Learning initiative targets—and it started six years ago.

“We’re kind of like the Nissan ad. We saw it coming and we are already doing it,” she said.

Effectively, the system gives students more choice in how they demonstrate they’ve learned a concept asking the students themselves to figure out how they can show they grasp what they’ve learned then execute the idea.

The point is to help students develop pathways and methodologies for learning themselves.

Rees referenced the speed at which knowledge is increasing, saying students today need to learn how to learn if they are to succeed in years to come.

jsmith@kelownacapnews.com