Part Four - How re-imagining possibilities shapes our future
This month concludes our four-part series on how transdisciplinary integrative education shapes our approach to preparing MAC students to be future ready.
Looking forward is something we do constantly at our Oakville private school. We asked the three teachers who have contributed so much to this series to express their thoughts and vision for where we might be in 2027.
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science.” – Albert Einstein
Christine Butterfield, Director of Integrated Arts
“I hope we have changed how we see education and schools. Currently, I think for many, in our minds, they are these traditional industrial sociological institutions; and I’d like to think instead, that we will come to see them more as ecosystems; living, breathing, changing, places where organisms (students and teachers) and the physical environment interact, linked by nutrient rich educational cycles and energy flows.
“Given the current conditions, where there is competition for space and impact from the far-reaching changes that have been driven by new technology, the pandemic and the need for hybrid learning solutions; in five years’ time, I would like to see us well-established in a new contiguous campus. One that includes a variety of adaptable and inviting indoor and outdoor spaces that inspire a shift in how students and staff work, learn and socialize together. I would like to see versatile multi-purpose spaces that are not “owned” by one academic area, places where there is democracy between subjects instead of traditional hierarchies; so that we facilitate BIG Picture learning, where students are creatively confident in identifying the platforms and directions of their own educational journeys.
“What does that mean on a practical level? Change, evolution and forward trending transformation.”
Nicholas R. Duranleau, High School Teacher
“The future. My wife, Elizabeth, often asks me where we’ll be in five years; I realize every time that I might be ill-suited for, or incapable of, this kind of thinking. I thrive in the present, and I find students can afford to do more of the same. Nevertheless, we keep moving forward, and the future keeps coming fast. When forced to peer into the headlights, I think that we teachers need to engage in a practice that rises, shifts, and swerves. I want our students to graduate with the feeling that they can see the connections between what they’ve learned in school and the real-world systems that they are moving around in.
“For this reason, I see the next five years at MacLachlan as a transition period toward more interdisciplinary learning. I imagine there’s a possibility of rearranging how upper school classes are organized. Perhaps a student’s timetable will no longer have three or four distinct courses per day. Instead, their schedule could revolve around pursuing a rich research question that fits into several disciplines. In this way, teachers would take on the roles of coordinator and advisor to guide students through developing the skills they need to come up with rich answers by the end of the year. Of course, fitting this model into the world of the Ontario curriculum and course credits has its challenges.
“If I’ve got five years, I’d like to work towards bringing a version of this model to life.”
Noreen Ameen, Senior Lead Science
“As a teacher in the company of young minds each day, I see the translation of a very different time in motion. Time that is etching out what shall inspire them, who they might become, what they shall seek outside of obligation and ultimately, what experiences shall facilitate their perpetual journeys. Short of seeking an instituted culture shift, I hope a mirror held up to the practices of a transdisciplinary environment at MAC reflects strategic and conscientious efforts to foster a change in motion, anchored only in the expectation that it shall keep on evolving and that we can be a responsive and whole experience for a young mind.
“A conscious sight of how time is making its mark, seeks vision in its integration of multiple and diverse perspectives and how they shall furnish the places we can accompany the students to, what they shall dive into, and be instinctively led by and etched into with. It is a collective pulse that is the school experience, one that I hope shall permeate borders of grades, subjects, spaces, accumulation of can dos and the traditional labels of expertise and qualifications.
“The vision will take flight among an inspirational space, as a dynamic and responsive home that invites teachers and students to take those leaps together and seek more ways to feel the pulse of a whole school experience in motion.”
Finally, while we may not have a fully-functioning and perfectly accurate crystal ball, we do know for certain that with the exceptional quality and dedication of our teachers we will continue to deliver an exceptional academic experience accompanied by real-world learning that ensures our students are ready for whatever the world may bring.