Saturday, 3 November 2012

Time to Learn

This weekend, while the rest of the world is turning its clocks back an hour to mark the end of daylight saving time, in the BC Peace, time will not change. It won't fall back, it won't stand still. Just as the Steve Miller Band sang back in 1976, time will just keep on slip, slip, slippin, into the future!

Time is a funny and paradoxical thing. There never seems to be enough of it to do a job well or properly the first time but later,  time can always be found to fix a problem. Many devices proclaim their value as "time savers" even though its not often terribly clear what the time is being saved for.  Others urge people  to spend "quality time" on things that "really matter" as opposed to just "marking time" on matters that are trivial or numb the spirit. Instead of wasting time we are urged to manage it wisely. Saved, spent, running out, being marked, managed or wasted, time seems to have a powerful role in our lives.

With life expectancy in Canada nearing 81 years, the average lifespan is about 700,000 hours. Between the ages of 5 and 18 Canadian children will spend about 14,000 of these hours at school. While that amount may amount to about 12% of their youth, school time will actually only take up between 2 and 3% of the average Canadian's total lifespan. Compared with the 30% of a lifetime that will be spent sleeping,  formal education has an all to brief a window into a person's life. Recognizing the brevity of the opportunity, it  becomes even more important that educators and students not waste it.

Identifying just what needs to be taught and learned, and the best ways to do so in a short period of time has been a challenge dating all the way back to the Bible's 90th Psalm with its reminder to "number our days that we may seek a heart of wisdom". British Columbia's BC EdPlan, with its emphasis on 21st Century learning, is one of the latest efforts to define better ways to utilize time spent in schools. While some degree of reflection is inevitable and healthy, its important to recognize that time, as the proverb says, waits for no man. Ultimately, the goal remains to provide a meaningful education that inspires and engages learners in the very short time they spend within the formal school system.

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