New Brunswick’s Education Plan


Over 50 of us had dinner with the Minister of Education on Friday night. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and as many of you know, I’m highly critical of industrial education. After the speech, I didn’t have much to disagree with. If this government follows through on its vision and promises, then we may see some real changes that will help our children become active and contributing citizens.

Kelly Lamrock spoke about community schooling, local learning options, an innovation fund and co-op programs. He challenged local business and non-profit groups to get involved with their schools. I have accepted this challenge, and it helped that two school principals were sitting at my table. We will discuss how we can integrate the Atlantic Wildlife Institute into the curriculum and also how I can help teachers understand Web tools for learning. There is a real atmosphere of openness, that I have not sensed for the past decade.

From the government document, When Kids Come First:

In the world that awaits, one of the skills most in demand will be the ability to solve problems. Following instructions will be work done in low-wage economies, or by machines. The people who control their economic future will be the kids who went through school solving problems and challenging themselves, not just following instructions.

And in that global world that awaits, our children will actually need a stronger sense of community than ever before. We’re not training — “we are teaching citizens, parents and leaders. That means we need to make our children feel anchored in a community where their actions touch the lives of others, where we give them a sense of our history, culture, languages and values — and a sense of belonging here at home.

I’m impressed with the government’s vision, knowing the challenges of changing a system that has been chugging along just fine for a century. I also know that all of us will have to get involved now, so that we don’t lose momentum. Many people will be threatened by changes to a more flexible and transparent learning environment, and at the first sign of difficulties reactionary forces will try to move back the clock. Carpe diem, New Brunswick.

3 Responses to “New Brunswick’s Education Plan”

  1. Jon Husband

    It sounds very promising .. and yes, a real sense of community with some stable roots and something that helps it endure over time, will be very important.

  2. Amanda Cockshutt

    I, too, was very impressed with the minister’s words and the direction that he is suggesting that the education system in the province needs to go. I read the “When Kids Come First” report and it left me a lot less enthused than the speech he gave. There were a lot things in there that annoyed me, like introducing yet more standardized testing. I suspect that some testing is probably necessary to make sure that things aren’t going off the rails, but there is now going to be testing in every elementary grade level for one element of the curriculum or another. So much time is already taken for the preparation and administration of these tests, we don’t need to waste more.

    My other main problem with the plan is that it isn’t very specific about how it is going to bring about the ambitious changes it proposes.

    I am hopeful though and have personally offered any help I can give to changing the system.


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