Future of Education Is Creativity, Social-Emotional Learning: New Book

By Szklarski, Cassandra | The Canadian Press, August 29, 2017 | Go to article overview

Future of Education Is Creativity, Social-Emotional Learning: New Book


Szklarski, Cassandra, The Canadian Press


Future of education is in shifting priorities: new book

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TORONTO - The key to ensuring kids are prepared for the unpredictable world that awaits is to make sure today's schools allow them to take risks, try new things and learn how to adapt to change, says educator Nancy Steinhauer.

The Toronto school principal teamed up with lawyer and education activist Kelly Gallagher-Mackay to lay out their vision for the future of education in the book "Pushing the Limits," out Tuesday.

They profile several public schools that are already championing harder-to-measure skills including high-order thinking and social-emotional learning.

Current achievement tests -- which measure math and reading levels -- are still important pieces of information, but they're only part of the picture, Steinhauer says.

"The kinds of things people were learning 50 years ago, 75 years ago, in school, that's not going to prepare our kids for the world that they live in," she says.

Steinhauer documents the five years she spent at an under-performing school where many students were refugees and new immigrants, and most lived in poverty. She says a shift in priorities -- and an influx of funds and professional development through a special program targeting inner-city schools -- helped turn things around.

She says this isn't an isolated case, and that parents can be encouraged by a growing movement to employ innovative approaches at Canada's schools.

CP: I hear a lot about teaching the four C's -- critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. How broadly embraced is that?

Steinhauer: Many of the provincial systems are really looking at that whole idea of 21st-century learning: what do our kids need to know to thrive in a world that is constantly changing? It's common knowledge now that most of the jobs that will be the best jobs in 10 years don't even exist right now. So it's not enough to teach children basic skills anymore ... students need to learn about creativity, about problem-solving, they need to learn emotional intelligence, they need to learn how to think about thinking, learn about learning.

CP: Does this conflict with the simultaneous push for STEM education, which emphasizes science, technology, engineering and math?

Steinhauer: I don't think it has to be opposed at all. Really, STEM-based learning is about thinking about problems and coming up with solutions and design-thinking and using the tools that we have before us to try and be creative.... It's harder to measure creativity, it's harder to measure social and emotional learning, but what we were finding as we were talking to people -- especially to kids who had really extraordinary experiences in schools -- was that it was that social-emotional learning piece, it was what they learned about themselves, it was opportunities to think creatively that really kept them motivated and made them feel like the learning was meaningful and worth doing. …

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