Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Life after EDIM

On the weekend I received an email from Karena asking me to reach out to a prospective student who wanted some information about the EDIM program. I fired off an email asking what he'd like to know and he sent back some questions -- how I'd rate my experience and the rigor of the program and whether I found my learning useful. The most interesting one for me, however, was: "Is there life after the program?" This is a double whammy because I've also taken early retirement, so I didn't just go back to my old school life after I finished the EDIM program. I'm really trying to catapult myself into a life that still involves teaching but not the day-to-day responsibility of secondary classroom work. I thought my shiny new M.Sc. would give me access to lots of university level jobs, but alas, you now need a Ph.D or Ed.D to do a lot of that work and I'm not sure at 59 whether I'm up for 3-5 years more training and research before those doors open. So for now I peruse the online data bases of post secondary jobs weekly looking for interesting opportunities that don't have as a minimum requirement the completion of a doctorate.

Part of this process has required the polishing of my CV -- and I've had to ask myself repeatedly what I really have to offer and how can I wrap up a career of over 35 years into a few pages that will convince the screening committee that I can do the job. It's an interesting process -- rather like backwards building (yes -- Wiggins and McTigue are my new heroes!) a unit or a lesson. I have to start with the end in mind and try to sandwich the direct explanation of my skills and experience between layers of material that will connect to the recruiters in an interesting way.

Another thing I've discovered on this journey is that while many K-12 schools are bogged down by the effort to standardize learning so that all students exit with the same skills and knowledge sets, at the university level institutions and departments are coming together to map out the real learning outcomes for students and then to find the intersection between teaching content and reaching learners. I wonder how students who are now growing up in schools where the emphasis is on ticking off the standards as they progress through the grade levels will manage when they get to post-secondary training where they are expected to become partners in the management of their learning and must shoulder a large part of the responsibility of ensuring that they meet the outcomes.

The video that follows is from Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC. It's long but if you listen behind the details of the discussion to the intention of why this new work of curriculum mapping is being done, it makes for an interesting listen. Perhaps the most interesting questions are: "What questions you will ask to determine whether the program outcomes were met?" and "How can we know that the actions we're taking are making a difference?" But in the 21st century, these questions I think should be asked not only by us educators, but also the students. Wolf puts forward idea that we need to make space in the curriculum for the students to reflect on all they've learned -- to look back in order to move forward. If the students of today become the education critics of tomorrow, it may behoove us to grow learners who take away from their years in K-12 not only skills and knowledge but also an overarching appreciation for how much they have learned and how earlier learning was always the platform for new learning.

Watch live streaming video from royalroads at

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