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The Future Favours Creative Kids. Why Doesn’t Our Education System?

Jul 1, 2019

Apparently, our future economy will favour people who are creative, collaborative and problem solvers.

And yet, our current education system does not. Despite the many superhero efforts of our country's great educators and caregivers.

We’ve created an educational system that doesn’t really consider its end user: students.

The True North conference, which brought together the tech and entrepreneurial community, recently landed in Waterloo region. While the conference highlighted real-world problems that tech could tackle, it also shone a spotlight on how woefully inadequate our education system is in preparing our children for the future economy.

According to Sarah Prevette, of Toronto-based Future Design School, a tech company that equips schools with learning strategies, 65 per cent of kids in primary school will have jobs in the future that don’t even exist yet.


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In Ontario, we run our education system like a corporation, putting profits over people. We favour traditional learners as school boards fight their way to the top of standardized test scores. We chronically underfund education, encouraging parent councils to fundraise to fill the gap, and then lament the rise of have and have-not schools.

The same day that the True North conference wrapped up, the Ottawa-Carleton school board announced it was joining school boards, such as Waterloo region, in taking a long, hard look at its French immersion program for fear it was segregating kids and hurting public education.

But our future is counting on non-traditional learners to push us forward. They are the makers, the creators and the entrepreneurs of the future.

Full disclosure: I have three kids in French immersion. Two happen to be traditional learners, one is not. And I had to tell my non-traditional learner this week that while the education system isn’t built for her, the future is.

What a terrible place to be as a society.

As a journalist, I used to cover education in London, Ont., and watched as school board trustees shuffled a complex maze of limited dollars just to make their budget numbers work.

Today, we are talking about increasing class sizes at a time when they should get smaller. That’s because it’s not always easy to teach a non-traditional learner, who can be highly creative and thus seen as highly unfocused. It takes time and patience because you have to sometimes explain things several times in several different ways until you find the one that clicks. This is almost impossible to do in a large class where time and patience is at a premium.

“Humans are not widgets,” Hamoon Ekhtiari, of FutureFit AI, told the audience at True North.

Indeed, they are not.

And yet, we’ve created an educational system that doesn’t really consider its end user: students.


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But our future is counting on non-traditional learners to push us forward. They are the makers, the creators and the entrepreneurs of the future. They will solve the biggest global challenges that we are putting on their plates today, like climate change and the technological push forward that is contributing to the spread of misinformation online, eating up democracy along the way.

Dare I say that there were 2,500 of those non-traditional learners at that conference this week.

Iain Klugman, CEO of Communitech, the tech hub in Waterloo region, which organizes True North, closed the conference by imploring the tech community to take its foot off the gas.

“Instead of moving fast and breaking things, it’s time to slow down and fix things,” he said. He wasn’t talking specifically about education, but his call to action applies as much to Ontario’s education system as it does the tech community.

And for the sake of my non-traditional learner, and non-traditional learners everywhere, I sure do hope we listen.

Article Author Kelly Pedro
Kelly Pedro

Kelly Pedro is a former journalist turned freelance writer who specializes in writing about education, health and literacy. Her work has appeared in several publications including The London Free Press, The Toronto Star and Today’s Parent. She lives in Kitchener, Ontario with her husband, three children and Juno, the Bernese mountain dog. Connect with Kelly on her website, Twitter, LinkedIn or Alignable.

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