Learners Are the Driver

The following image was created by Alberta Education several years ago:

Alberta Education Competency Wheel

Although it is no longer used, I still find the image to be a very powerful visual for what learning can look like in schools.  The ideas are not necessarily separated from one another, and are all intertwined in some way, which is what learning really looks like. The “3 E’s” (Ethical Citizen, Entrepreneurial Spirit, and Engaged Thinker) are the bigger goals, but they also show what is important to get to those bigger ideas.

I am sure that people can look at this and pick it apart, and create something better (which I actually think is a good thing since we shouldn’t just accept it without the component of critical thinking), but there are two things that are very compelling to me when I look at the above image.

The first thing is that the learner is in the centre of the circle. This is really crucial and it actually intertwines the importance of both innovation and best practice.  The reason I say that is sometimes what we know and have adopted as “best practice” works for many of our students, but sometimes it doesn’t. If the learner is truly in the centre of learning, we will have to sometimes go with what we know, or else create something different for that student (why I advocate for the importance of having “The Innovator’s Mindset“). There has been no time in history where any one thing has worked for all of our students. If it did, we would all be doing it.  In the book, I adapt the well known quote from Michael Fullan, “Learning is the driver, technology is the accelerator”, to “Learners are the driver, and technology is the accelerator.” Learners should be at the centre of what we do.

The second thing that I really love about this graphic is that it focuses on the “basics” of literacy and numeracy as core skills, but goes beyond them as well.  This constant struggle between “the basics” and “innovation” is not realistic, and this graphic sums that up nicely. You need both.  One of my favourite quotes that I have heard from Dr. Yong Zhao was “reading and writing should be the floor, not the ceiling”.  This image focuses on going beyond the basics (while still saying they are extremely crucial), which is what we should want for our students.

I have shared this image with others and I think it is a great conversation piece for staff.  Some things to think about:

  1. How are we focusing on the learner at the centre of our decisions?
  2. How are we going “beyond” the basics while still ensuring that we are meeting the expectations that we are required to do in our work?
  3. What would we change? What would we add? What would we subtract? Why?

Hopefully this can help further some conversations.  What would your questions be?