Last autumn, during my first weeks as editor of Education Canada, there were many discussions – with staff and with our Editorial Board – about what this magazine should be. One goal that stood out was to involve all educators, from researchers and academics to teachers and school administrators, in the all-important discussion of what education can and should be. To do that, we felt we needed to broaden the magazine’s appeal, and the redesign you see here, with more readable print and a less formal design, is one step in that direction. We also decided to devote the bulk of each issue to a specific theme, so that we can address important issues with greater variety and depth.
This year’s first theme, student engagement, gets at the heart of education’s goal, and CEA’s mission.
Over dinner one night, I mentioned one of the disturbing findings of CEA’s What did you do at school today? research: that many successful students who appear to be engaged in school say they are not engaged intellectually. Rather, they say they’ve learned how to “do school” in order to get good grades.
“That’s exactly what it is!” my son Aaron (now 20, and a highly engaged college jazz student) exclaimed. “There was hardly anything in high school I was actually interested in or cared about. I just learned to figure out the minimum I would have to do to get 80 percent, and that’s all I did.”
What a waste, if so many of our kids are just “going through the motions” at school. As a parent, I think making education a more compelling, passionate and enjoyable learning experience for kids is a worthy goal in itself. But innovation experts like Charles Leadbeater (p. 11) argue that it’s also a necessary goal, if we are to equip today’s students to solve the global challenges they will face as adults.
Of course, with any learning task there are tedious parts and stages where frustration rules. But if we want today’s students to be the curious, creative, lifelong learners our world needs, we have to figure out how to light that intellectual spark more often. In this issue, we grapple with how to do just that.
First published in Education Canada, January 2013
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