Changes to teaching practices could be coming to some B.C. schools

WATCH: A math course where the students build furniture? An environmental course that’s almost never in a classroom? Just two of the many changes students and parents across the province could see in the coming years, under the government’s plans to overhaul the education system. Keith Baldrey explains.

VANCOUVER – Some schools in B.C. will start to have radical changes to their curriculum under a new government plan developed in partnership with teachers.

The K-12 Innovation Strategy was unveiled by the government at an event today that brought together teachers and international experts. Some of the ideas being floated for the plan include nature kindergarten, and having students make furniture to learn principles of math, geometry, planning and teamwork.

Some students will be allowed to design their own learning spaces and programs, while Grade 11 and 12 students will have greater opportunities to take post-secondary classes.

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Many of these initiatives already take place in individual schools in B.C., but the plan is to identify more schools that can work in partnership with the provincial government to advance new approaches.

“These innovation schools will help us find out what works and what doesn’t. This will be disciplined innovation. With greater latitude and freedom, comes greater scrutiny and responsibility to communicate how things are going,” says Education Minister Peter Fassbender in a statement.

At the same conference, an international education expert gave the thumbs down to standardized testing in schools in favour of a new approach to teaching that centres on a child’s individual talents.

Yong Zhao, a professor of educational policy at the University of Oregon, told a crowd of experts — including the education minister — that the current system drives creativity down and discriminates against students with diverse abilities.

The skills assessment tests, written by students in Grades 4 and 7, have long been opposed by the B.C. Teachers Federation which argues that the tests don’t help students learn or teachers teach.

– With files from The Canadian Press

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