Education: The lighting of a fire

Capilano University

William Butler Yeats once said that “education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” Little did he know how accurate this statement would become today as we witness arguably the biggest change in the history of education.

Over the past two decades, educators have seen a seismic shift in the way they need to teach. What once was a professor at the front of the room being the holder and disseminator of information is no longer relevant. Students, armed with the advent of technology, now have the world at their fingertips and are no longer dependent on the educator to fill their vessels with knowledge.

In pedagogic terms, it is the change from what is called first order learning (facts and skills) to second order learning (learning how to learn) and third order learning (students developing their own understandings and values about how they relate to the world). 

As a result of these shifts in innovation and technology, we have seen a dramatic change in the K to 12 curriculum that will help to prepare students to succeed in the 21st century. The focus is more concept driven versus content driven and looks at big ideas and inquiry-based learning.   

Post-secondary faculty are also continuing to change their teaching practices in order to engage learners. Methods that help to democratize the classroom like flipping the classroom where homework and lecture elements are reversed, or the jigsaw classroom where students become the experts of the information and engage in workshops under the instructor’s guidance, are being employed in university and college classrooms all over the world. There is also a strong focus on place-based, experiential learning as well as the use of metacognition to solve problems. 

At the Sunshine Coast Campus at Capilano University, students engage in many project-based activities. On any given day, you can find a student giving a presentation to council as part of a management class; working in various areas in the community as part of a practicum; or delivering a small event with community stakeholders. The community has become the classroom. 

Welcome to the 21st century of education. It will no doubt be a road paved with excitement, possibilities, and the lighting of many fires. 

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