Both British Columbia and Alberta are rewriting their entire K-12 curriculums to bring them into the 21st century. In Ontario, advocacy groups such as People for Education are pushing for similar changes.
The key features of this new model are an emphasis on creativity, innovation and “digital literacies,” with more discussion of broad concepts and big ideas and less emphasis on factual knowledge. Courses will be personalized to suit students’ “learning preferences.” Classes will be “student-centred,” and feature far less direct instruction and far more project and group work. Teachers will be expected to act as guides to “self-directed learners.” Technology will feature heavily in the classroom. Grades and testing will be downgraded. (Because who, after all, can measure “creativity”?)
What evidence is there that this new approach produces better results? Er, none.
“Essentially it’s faith-based,” says Paul Bennett, an education consultant based in Halifax who is an expert on the history of education. In fact, all the evidence points the other way. Experiments with discovery-based math have generally been a flop. But never mind: The education reformers are pressing ahead full-speed.Don't they always? And don't they always ignore their failures (for example, the "whole language" method which replaced phonics)?