We teach our kids what to learn. We don’t teach them how to learn. We also don’t inspire a passion to learn. These are two of the fundamental problems with the education system in Nova Scotia.

I thought this was just my perception and then I visited the Department of Education’s web site. The Vision statement for the Department of Education, is:


Every child and student is confident and proud, maximizing their potential and contributing to a thriving society.

Their vision statement doesn’t mention a thing about education or about learning, but it does mention that the student will feel confident and proud. I was surprised when I saw this. Doesn’t the Department of Education care about education?

The Halifax Regional School Board is somewhat better. I couldn’t find the vision statement on their site, but it is described:

The HRSB’s vision is to provide a high quality education to every student every day

At least they mention education. Once again, I was surprised and disappointed. I wasn’t actually able to find the vision statement or the mission statement anywhere on the web site. (If you know where it is then please let me know.)

When I served as a Board Member in the HRSB, the vision statement was that we would encourage each student to develop a passion for learning. Our focus was on what the students could achieve and there was a constant push to life long learning. We wanted the student to continue to learn. We didn’t simply want to deliver something to them and send them on their way.

That’s the difference between education (or teaching) and learning.

Education and teaching are what you deliver. I presented this class. I showed these slides. I explained these concepts. Learning is what you get. It’s what you receive. Today I learned about surface tension, by seeing water flow on wax paper. Today I learned about overtones in music by hearing them played. Today I learned about some of the chemical reactions in baking a cake.

Teaching is when you focus on the teacher. Learning is when you focus on the student. The difference is profound. It is fundamental to how our education system is designed and delivered.

We need to get back to a system where we inspire kids to learn. We need to inspire kids to find out more about the world around them, the world under the oceans, and space. We need to make sure that our kids haven’t just been delivered a product (education), but rather that they see things, are curious, ask questions, expand their knowledge, see things in more clarity … and have a cycle that continues through their lives.

When our kids don’t know something they Google it. They don’t think about what it could be, they don’t ask questions, they don’t discuss possibilities, they don’t consider experimenting (aside: I love the idea of Mythbusters because they present a question and then, as scientifically as possible in a TV show, try to answer it). They simply assume that the answer is out there on the internet, and since it’s on the internet it’s probably right.

We need to get back to a system where our kids can learn, and where they want to learn. They should want to be curious. They should want to share their knowledge, sometimes because they are proud of it, and sometimes because it’s a great way to learn more.

If we don’t give that to our kids then they won’t give that to their kids.

We will become consumers, not contributors.

We will find the easy way through any situation, because it’s the only one we know.

I don’t have all the the answers. I do know that we have to start asking more questions about our system of education. What we have is not sustainable.