Thursday, 5 March 2015

"Design Your Dream School"
2051 Project - Student Panel

March 5, 2015

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a 'think tank' session with two of our student leaders.  Our students joined the Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS) Board of Directors to discuss a new initiative: The 2051 Project.

The 2051 Project is the brainchild of CAIS's Executive Director, Anne-Marie Kee.  The name of the project is derived from George Orwell's masterpiece 1984.  

What people do not know about this book is that it was written in 1948 and Orwell opted to switch the last two numbers to come up with the futuristic time for the plot to develop.  Ms. Kee's project, which is starting in 2015 and is titled 2051 not only follows the same naming convention but has every bit of potential it would need to become it's own masterpiece.

In the coming months the students, teachers, leaders and the CAIS Board are attempting to answer the question, what should schools look like in 2051.  Yesterday was an opportunity for 8 students from Calgary (two from Rundle College & Academy) to answer this very question.

Ms. Key and the CAIS Board of Directors posed a few questions to the students and had them answer in an open forum.  The questions included items on technology, on learning and on design.  To me, the most fascinating prompt was: 

"If you could design your 'dream school' - what would it look like?"

As an adult and administrator, I know there are a lot of things that go into a school.  There is the culture, the community, the vision, the values and the physical plant, to name a few.  However, I wrongly assumed that if students were asked this question they would respond with answers like a great media lab, a big fitness facility, a playing field or a performing arts center.  

Needless to say, I was shocked, surprised and inspired by the answers of the students on the panel.  

They answered:

  • small class sizes
  • personalized relationships with my teachers
  • experiential learning
  • opportunity to ask and answer questions of the best teachers
  • applied learning opportunities
  • brain friendly approaches to learning
  • a culture of excellence
Wow!  Not a single answer about a physical building.  Every answer was about relationship, character, community and learning.  I was amazed and inspired.  After all, is this not where our CAIS schools really excel and differentiate themselves?

Wherever education ends up in 2051, I believe the next generation is in great hands as these student leaders step into a more prominent role in our society.

All the best,

Jason B. Rogers

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