You Ask, We Answer: Are Students Ready For the Future of Learning?

In this series of posts, we answer questions collected from WAB parents about the Future of Learning. Click here to submit your question.

A key aspect of school learning is student agency, a buzz word that describes each student's ability to take more ownership over what, when, how, and with whom they learn. Increasing agency requires a school to be flexible in scheduling, approaches to learning, physical spaces and learner groups, among other things, but it allows students to dive into their passions, gain self-awareness, and develop skills that will be necessary in their future. (A great example of this is the Grade 7 Experience last March.)

Research tells us that people learn better when they are emotionally invested in their learning, can make relevant connections between their lessons and real lives, and are resilient and adaptable in the face of uncertainty and change.

Many parents, especially those with younger children, voice valid concerns about a lack self-motivation, organization, time management, and other skills that are essential for students to be successful in taking more agency or self-directing their learning. Schools that are transforming to achieve the future of learning, like WAB, are taking several steps to help students develop these skills.

Make no mistake: Student agency and self-direction do no mean the end of direct instruction from teachers, formal assessments, or core competencies like literacy and numeracy. We are not handing over the entire school experience to students; we are looking for ways to increase opportunities for students to take more ownership and work with their teachers to design an experience that will maximize their learning potential.

We are directly teaching students soft skills, like communication, time management, and organization, because we know that learning these skills at an earlier age means students will be more successful in university, careers, and personal life. In WAB's vision for the Future of Learning, there will be flexibility to offer more time for students to develop these skills or for progressive students to move more quickly through their lessons.

Overall, we acknowledge that these shifts in the learning experience will require new skills not typically taught in conventional schools. However we know that these changes will contribute to the overall success of these students – both as students at WAB and in life after graduation.

So the answer to this question is a resounding yes, and we, as a school community, are constantly further students' preparation on an individual and group level at different paces and with varying levels of support. Survey results from students affirm this, as do so many examples of learning, such as the Grade 5 PYP Exhibition, self-directed learning time, WIT time in the ES, Day 9 in the Middle and High Schools, flex time, and the Grade 7 Experience.

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