Personalization and an emphasis on competencies: How B.C.’s new education plan will shape our students’ expectations

Jan Unwin
Jan Unwin provides an overview of changes happening in the K-12 sector that will impact future teaching and learning
approaches at SFU.

Passion, purpose and personalization are three elements that public school (K-12) students view as fundamental to the ideal education system of the future. These are some of the core findings of a study presented at SFU on January 16 by Jan Unwin, superintendent of graduate and student transitions with B.C.’s ministries of Education and Advanced Education.

Unwin’s presentation was arranged by the Task Force on Flexible Education (TFFE) to provide a glimpse into the changes that could shape SFU’s incoming students—and their expectations—in the years ahead.

According to Unwin, the provincial government is taking a bold leap towards reimagining and restructuring the K-12 public education system to make it more reflective of today’s diverse educational needs. “It’s a mind shift,” she said, adding that the current K-12 system is built on “systems and models and structures that were set up for a different age.”

Unwin indicated that the government has identified five key areas of focus for the next B.C. Education Plan: personalized learning, quality teaching and learning (including mentorship), flexibility and choice, high standards, and learning empowered by technology. A key question guiding the exploratory study went like this: Why should our education system be one-size-fits-all when we know that no two students are alike and that they come to us with different goals, aspirations and competencies?

Perhaps one of the largest pedagogical shifts within the proposed plan is the focus on competencies rather than content as the driver. Unwin described the vision is one in which teachers take on a coaching and mentoring role to assist students with finding their passion and a successful pathway to their future.

“We want to create the best possible life chances for kids and young adults, and we want them speaking about their entire educational experience with passion, purpose and pride,” said Unwin. “We need to work collaboratively to get it right.”

The proposed transformation of the K-12 system will have enormous implications for post-secondary institutions like SFU. The TFFE is highlighting these types of issues and working to generate discussion around how the university can be more responsive to, and prepared for, students who will expect approaches to teaching and learning that mirror, at least to some degree, the reimagined K-12 curriculum.

Want to know more about Jan Unwin’s presentation? Follow the links below to view the presentation webcast, see the presentation slides, or download the new B.C. Education Plan.

Click here to watch the webcast.
Download a copy of Jan’s slides.
BC Education Plan: http://flexed.sfu.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/bcs_education_plan_2015.pdf