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Part Two - Curiouser and curiouser! Unleashing imagination

In the opening chapter of Alice in Wonderland, “Down the Rabbit Hole”, Alice follows the White Rabbit into his burrow and is transported to the surreal and strange world of Wonderland.

Last month, we shared how Ms. Butterfield responded to a student’s question about teleportation. This is the kind of inquiry we encourage, as discovering answers and approaches can transport our students to a whole new wonderland of imagination.

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
 Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Many of us were educated in a system that was propelled by a quest to find the right answer. That’s the motivation behind a linear approach to teaching and while it has some place in some disciplines, there must also be opportunities provided to embrace the unexpected and unleash imagination. This unleashing is part of the reason we’re establishing a new club activity for our Grade 9 – 12 students. It’s called the Anything Club!

“Understanding how to approach a challenge from a more broadly informed perspective is a real advantage in preparing students to succeed,” commented Ms. Ameen.

Mr. Duranleau reinforces this thought by remarking, “As teachers, we have to be sufficiently confident to open avenues of exploration beyond our defined areas of expertise. We need to respond to student inquiry and work with them as they breach the walls of a singular-focused curriculum. We love it when our students make connections between areas of study.”

MAC students are not passive learners. They are individuals who are encouraged to re-imagine possibilities and that’s why, comments Ms. Butterfield, “we are providing an additional space where our students can be free to explore whatever sort of wonderland their imagination can create.”

These are not mere flights of fancy. We see how MAC’s approach builds self worth and instills the very real and necessary skill of thinking things through and seeing patterns emerge. When students find joy in learning, their minds virtually explode and they begin to make sense of the world.

As Ms. Ameen sees it, “While teachers guide and facilitate much of how the curriculum is delivered, activities such as the Anything Club are student led. We set the plate and these young people create the vision. They establish a forum where they can speak freely, share their thoughts, reflect on their perspectives and be valued as people who can uncover solutions of their own making.”

Think of this…when you build the capability to approach opportunities, while enlisting learning from various disciplines, you’re bound to come up with extraordinary outcomes that a linear thought process wouldn’t produce. For instance, in the study of humanities, we consider the concept of scale in the context of time and space, which fosters an appreciation of the importance of perspective. Different views and values emerge when you look at an issue through a broader lens.

The arts add critical and cultural theories and philosophies. They shape contemporary forms of expression, deep observation, and constructive feedback. These skills are also apparent in the sciences where methodology includes objective observation, evidence, experimentation, critical analysis and verification.

The Anything Club is a student driven opportunity to explore an interdisciplinary approach to inquiry outside the constraints of a formal lesson. “We’re excited to see what arises from the activities of the Anything Club,” says Ms. Butterfield. “Now that we’re emerging from this period, we’ll be better able to witness students develop a broader network of knowledge and understanding.”

And, as Mr. Duranleau observes, “There’s a genuine sense of liberation in offering this opportunity to the MAC high school grades. We’re confident that these young people will lead us to witness all kinds of curiouser and curiouser topics.”

It’s a world of wonder in the Anything Club!

Author: MacLachlan College

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