COLUMN: Teaching to student passions
The Intelligence Quotient test, or rather, the IQ test, was invented 96 years ago and used as a predictor of educational achievement, special needs, and assessment of learning ability.
However, the system of learning in the public education system through which students are most often assessed, is not free of flaws.
There are many different kinds of intelligences that are neglected in the lesson structure. Thomas Haney Secondary School in Maple Ridge, however, was built in step with a paradigm shift in the way kids ought to be taught.
Twenty years ago, the school helped pioneer a new teaching model, one that offers fewer structured classes and more free time, where students learn at their own pace, and have more of a say in what they are learning.
Thomas Haney approached my school, South Delta Secondary, in the 1990s with its proposition for classes tailored to the students’ passions. A few concepts were picked up, but not all. Recently, several teachers from SDSS visited Thomas Haney to take a second, more in-depth look at this novel new learning style.
“There are pros and cons to any complex process or endeavor, and in that respect, Thomas Haney is no different than any other secondary school,” says Julie Lymburner, Delta School District’s Head of Fine Arts. “It’s a building structured for collaboration... Throughout the school there’s a feeling of fun, freedom, power and belonging.”
The Thomas Haney campus is equipped with spacious rooms and work areas for everything from large group activities to small study groups. Students are given a pre-packaged curriculum at the beginning of the year so they may pace themselves and pursue what they love.
However, for this concept to work the way it was designed, students must be self-motivated, organized, and with a sense of direction. The job of a teacher is to prepare their pupils for the vast, unknown outside world.
Does it not, then, make just as much sense to allow the students to teach themselves as well?
“As students are given opportunities to set goals, work independently and manage their lives, they will learn how to be successful in our dynamic, competitive world,” says Lymburner.
A core group of faculty at South Delta is already in the process of adapting to this new method, having already taken small steps in the right direction.
I myself am enrolled in one similar class: Art Foundations 12, a self directed, portfolio-sculpting block; one which I can enjoy by myself, or with company, at my leisure, and one which I highly recommend to aspiring artists in high school.
This coming fall will be the beginning of a bright new future for the Delta District, and I sincerely hope all the students will rise to the occasion.
• ML Schneider is an artist, soccer player, and Grade 12 student at SDSS