Exploring the Ever-Shifting Landscape of Education

Collaboration Leads to Connection

Since November, 61 LCS staff members across all school departments have participated in 15 professional development trips. We’ve visited leading-edge organizations and businesses like MaRS Discovery District, Shopify, Evergreen Brickworks, the Centre for Social Innovation, and the Peterborough and Kawarthas Innovation Cluster; and educational institutions such as the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation (CTSI), The Global Online Academy (GOA), the Rotman School of Management, the Universities of Ottawa and Toronto, and a number of public and independent schools. We’ve explored topics related to strategic property and infrastructure development, grade-less assessment, teaching, and entrepreneurship, while focusing on the ever-shifting landscape of education and jobs.

Below are a few of the high-level observations made by our faculty and staff capturing what they believe to be key skill sets, characteristics and environments essential for LCS to consider while exploring how best to prepare students for success.

Skills Students Will Need in The Future

Universally, LCS staff reflected on the non-linear nature of the 21st Century world. Students will need to be resilient and adaptable, with a willingness to embrace change and disruption. They should equip themselves with what some describe as T-Shaped skills: deep knowledge in defined areas, while being broadly able to understand and collaborate across disciplines using strong communication skills. 

Graphical representation of key skillsets and characteristics sited in response to the question: What are the skills that students will need in the future? Pulled from faculty and staff PD trip reports – size based on frequency of mention
Skills students will need in the future: pulled from faculty and staff PD trip reports – size based on the frequency of mention

Students will need to develop the right mindset. Following his trip to MaRS Discovery District, Rotman School of Management (University of Toronto) and Next 36, science teacher Mike Arsenault observes, students must be “…coachable, resilient, willing to take feedback and not take it personally, persistent, hungry, and work well with others.” Sarah Thompson ’06, English and French teacher, adds, “The world is changing and our students need to be creative, innovative, and open to these changes,…ready to adapt.”

To thrive in a global work environment, students should be empathetic and possess strong communication and collaboration skills. Following a video conference with the Global Online Academy, Head of Matthews House and English teacher Jim McGowan is inspired by “…the idea of building meaning through promoting and fostering a curiosity within students about real world issues – with an emphasis on global perspectives. As a community, we need to focus on having our students graduate with an ability to communicate well and empathize with others that share a different world view… both on campus and beyond.” Math and Computer Science teacher Russell Gordon, also believes we should challenge ourselves to “…continue teaching core literacy, numeracy, and critical thinking skills. However, we need to get beyond the silos of learning and design cross-curricular tasks that address meaningful overall expectations. Students need to trust that we will value the process of learning as much as the end product.” 

How the World is Changing 

The world is changing rapidly, continuously and across multiple sectors. Political, socio-economic, technological, and cultural considerations (among many others) shape our media and our access to information—and resultant innovation—is unprecedented. Future career paths will regularly blur the traditional boundaries between industries and across sectors, and we must strive to prepare students for uncertainty, relentless pace-of-change, and for careers that don’t yet exist.

English and Social Sciences teacher Erica Chellew ’95 highlights that response to rapid change necessitates, “Hunger – apathy predicts failure in all aspects of the changing world – young people will need to want to thrive in the world. They will need to love what they are doing in order to succeed.” In reflecting on change, faculty member Mike Aben highlights the powerful influence of the Internet on society. “The Internet encourages shallow, fact-based knowledge, but problem-solving requires deep understanding.”

The team that visited The York School, Greenwood College School, and the Island Yacht Club in Toronto noted that, jobs are becoming harder to find, and that urban communities, especially, have less access to nature and natural spaces. They highlight a need for adaptability, an entrepreneurial spirit, and the need to foster a connection with natural spaces and the natural environment.

The ever-evolving world presents a significant challenge for LCS as we prepare students for life after graduation. Community feedback tells us that we excel at providing a strong, caring community and warm, supportive, well-rounded student experience.  How do we embrace change to ensure we maintain these strong qualities as a learning community, remain relevant, while providing students with the education and preparation they need to succeed in the future?

How might LCS need to change?

To develop a learning culture and program that fosters the skills, competencies, and characteristics that students will require to thrive in the future will mean that LCS, as a school and as a professional learning community, will also need to be adaptive and resilient moving forward with confidence and creativity.

Reflecting on a visit to the Peterborough and Kawarthas Innovation Cluster, Social Sciences Teacher and Curriculum Development Coordinator Stuart Lee advocates the benefits of adventure-based learning models in preparing students to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.  He says, “Students need to break through what is comfortable and emerge into a new territory which will expose them to a new realm of possibilities. How do we do this? We explore more adventure-based experiences. The adventure does not have to be exotic. It can occur in the classroom or on the soccer pitch, but the adventure-based learning process pushes students to explore new endeavours.”

Assessment processes can also have an important role to play in how the school chooses to move forward with its educational model and prepare students for the world outside. Dave Krocker, Assistant Head: Teaching and Learning says, “Rethinking our curriculum by focusing on general or overall outcomes rather than specific outcomes will allow us to engage our students in more projects that are authentic and experiential.”

On numerous reports, faculty and staff have suggested LCS would benefit from more interdisciplinary connections across the curriculum and better integration of the school’s indoor spaces to the outdoors, with the integration of our natural campus into all aspects of learning.

Whichever way we move, Assistant Head: Academics Joe Bettencourt emphasizes the importance and value of ensuring we continue to know our students well as individuals, despite this time of change.

As the school moves forward with its research, we have time to consider all we have been learning in our strategic research process. We are committed to seeking input from various constituent groups, researching trends, practices and other schools, and thinking about the future of Lakefield. Based on staff feedback thus far, there is no doubt that LCS is up to the challenge. The opportunity to live our values and to model resiliency, adaptability and a willingness to embrace change will positively impact our students and provide them a springboard to life-long success.

As we continue to evolve and adapt to meet the needs of students for today and tomorrow, our mission and values continue to guide us. They provide a foundation of strength upon which we can move forward in developing new generations of thoughtful, engaged, and well-rounded young people.

LCS Staff Trips and Participants:

Topic: Strategic Property & Infrastructure
Venue(s): Greenwood College School, The York School, Toronto Island Yacht Club
Participants: Richard Johnston, Garret Hart, Tim Rutherford, Peter Andras

Topic: An Emphasis on Learning: Shifting Our Assessment Practice to Gradeless Assessment & Teaching
Venue(s): Fletcher’s Meadow Secondary School, Mayfield Secondary School
Participants: Dave Krocker, Erica Chellew, Jessica Hart, Dayna Taylor

Topic: Arts Innovation Panel & Shopify
Venues(s): University of Ottawa, Shopify Headquarters
Participants: Derek Doucet, Anne-Marie Kee, Bruce McMahon, Tina St. John, Christine Vogel, Sarah Young

Topic: Examining Success Skills in Business Startups
Venue(s): Peterborough and Kawarthas Innovation Cluster
Participants: Erica Chellew, Stu Lee, Mike Arsenault, Tobey Guillick-Scott

Topic: Understanding the Impact of the Legalization of Marijuana
Venue(s): Grimsby, ON or Brantford, ON
Lisa Ducharme, Kerrie Hansler, Sheena Howard, Jennifer Kemp, Darren Moffatt, Luisa Roberts, John Runza, Barb Rutherford

Topic: University Academics
Venue(s): Queen’s University
Participants: Amy Moore, Mike Aben, Todd Harris, Julia McGill

Topic: Social Innovation / Environmental Stewardship / Inclusion
Venue(s): The 519, Evergreen Brickworks, CSI Regent Park
Participants: Vicky Boomgaardt, Pete Andras, Debbie Buckley, Theresa Butler-Porter, Andrea Howland, Jaclyn McMurray, Borana Sarcevic, Leisa Wierenga

Topic: Online Learning
Venue(s): Global Online Academy
Participants: Su Armstrong, Joe Bettencourt, John Boyko, Derek Doucet, Rory Gilfillan, Russell Gordon, Carol Jorgensen, Barb MacLean, Jim McGowan, Tom Milburn, Sarah Thompson, Tim Rollwagen, Christine Vogel, Liz Whitney

Topic: Tech Art, Design, Creativity
Venue(s): Haliburton School for the Arts
Participants: Su Armstrong, Rachel Bemrose, Tayler Morencie, Tina St. John

Topic: Hands On Studio Spaces
Venue(s): Studio Barn
Participants: Danielle Labrosse, April Loojie, Amy McGrath, Ali Webb, Sam Wilson

Topic: Global Learning and Changes in Traditional Workplaces
Venue(s): WE Global Headquarters, Scotiabank’s Digital Factory, Deloitte Head Office
Participants: Tracey Blodgett, Libby Dalrymple, Jen Horrigan, Sean Quinn ’82

Topic: Advising System
Venue(s): Greenwood College School
Participant: Heather Avery, Kirsten Johnston, Kayla Reinhard

Topic: Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Venue(s): MaRS Discovery District, Rotman School of Management (University of Toronto), Next 36
Participants: Mike Arsenault, Heather Avery, Jennifer Browne, Grant Elson, Stephanie Jackman, Joe McRae, Pete O’Grady, Katie Pezoulas, Leslie Schumacher, Shane Smyth