Over the last two weeks, I have had the opportunity to be a part of several conversations on the question of “What do we want to see, or expect to see” from a citizen who has graduated from the K-12 education system in British Columbia? With the many discussions surrounding system transformation, this was a good time to look at what we currently say we want in British Columbia. The following definition out of the Statement of Education Policy Order; The Educated Citizen, has existed in this province since 1989:
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. Continued progress toward our social and economic goals as a province depends upon well-educated people who have the ability to think clearly and critically, and to adapt to change. Progress toward these goals also depends on educated citizens who accept the tolerant and multifaceted nature of Canadian society and who are motivated to participate actively in our democratic institutions. Government is responsible for ensuring that all of our youth have the opportunity to obtain high-quality schooling that will assist in the development of an educated society. To this end, schools in the province assist in the development of citizens who are:
• thoughtful, able to learn and to think critically, and who can communicate information from a broad knowledge base;
• creative, flexible, self-motivated and who have a positive self-image;
• capable of making independent decisions;
• skilled and who can contribute to society generally, including the world of work;
• productive, who gain satisfaction through achievement and who strive for physical well-being;
• cooperative, principled and respectful of others regardless of differences;
• aware of the rights and prepared to exercise the responsibilities of an individual within the family, the community, Canada, and the world.
In reading this, I was surprised how little I would change in the definition. While so much has changed in our world, many of our values and goals have remained unchanged. Others across B.C. are thinking and writing about this. Brian Kuhn, for one, has looked at the various comments on this topic, including this post (here) on the Educated Citizen.
So, what should be added or amended?
While acknowledging the importance and ability of individual work, we also clearly value the ability to work collaboratively and in groups. I also think an increasing importance should be placed on social and environmental awareness. Focussing on the future, the document should acknowledge and include the requirement for our graduates/citizens to have the proficiency to participate in both face-to-face and digital environments.
There is no argument that much of the conversation around the skills we want for our children are exactly as described in this 1989 document, “think clearly and critically, and to adapt to change.” We now know our current challenge is to prepare students for a world in constant change and increasingly difficult to predict.
In fact, while the world around us has changed quickly, our “Educated Citizen” has not. So, we will continue to meet the goals in the 1989 definition, but the strategies employed will differ dramatically from what they were 20 years ago.
I would love to hear your feedback on what you think is missing from the 1989 definition, or if you think there is anything missing at all.