Last week our class visited the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry – an independent school in Victoria that focusses on integrating the curriculum, emergent learning, and critical and creative thinking. The founder, Jeff Hopkins spoke about the school’s philosophy at TEDxVictoria in 2014.

My notes after watching this talk:

  • Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a flame.
  • Distinction between getting information and actually knowing it
  • If education system doesn’t shift, from “knowing about” to “knowing”, making changes for the better in our world could be difficult
  • Ingredients in knowing:
    • Initial questions -> looking deeper -> new questions
    • Reason to learn -> emergent learning
  • Need opportunities for deep personal inquiry, hard to do with groups of 30 kids
  • Right now – subject silos, but we need to move to more personal competencies
    • some have been revised in new curriculum, some not
  • (Talk is mostly focussed on secondary school rather than elementary)
  • Suggests reorganizing learning – critical thinking, creative thinking, ecological literacy, mathematical literacy
    • Combine with high level learning objectives
    • This is happening at PSII right now, he has proposed this to the B.C. Ministry of Education

I was really looking forward to the tour, but unfortunately my son was sick that day and I was unable to go. I talked with my classmates after the tour and these were their notes:

  • The learners were eloquent, respectful and mature
  • They talked about how their learning focussed on independence, time management, collaboration and respect
  • There are 95 students in the school, and tuition is $7,200 per year (way lower than I would expect for a private school, but I don’t know much about the funding models for these)
  • I didn’t realize there are no more provincial exams in B.C. anymore, just curricular competencies that students need to meet
  • Some students found that their large inquiry project did not fulfill all of their curricular requirements so they had to do certain make up courses to fulfill these
    • Sometimes this was in the form of additional smaller inquiry projects
  • The school doesn’t work for all learners, parents or teachers
  • They spend time giving the students a grounding in what inquiry is, something that our teaching program has really lacked even though we currently have 3 inquiry projects assigned to us
  • Jeff Hopkins described the inquiry model as an Indigenous way of knowing – the questions the students ask are important to them, their families and their communities
  • Students have the opportunity to sit in on UVic courses – I believe either in part or in full?

I may try to make up the tour on my own, my classmates were impressed and inspired by the way learning is happening at PSII