Future Tense: Adapting Canadian Education Systems for the 21St Century

Task Force: Félix-Antoine Boudreault, James Haga, Ben Paylor, Annie Sabourin, Samira Thomas, Clifton van der Linden

Advisor: Rae Hull

Canadian education systems rank among the best in the world, resulting in a highly-skilled labour force and competitive industries. However, the challenges associated with the twenty-first century have placed new demands on Canada and, by extension, Canadian education systems. In particular, these systems are now tasked with educating a generation that faces an unprecedented pace of social, economic, and technological change.

In an effort to equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to prosper in such an environment, provincial governments across Canada have begun to implement education strategies that focus on developing specific competencies which collectively fall under the rubric of 21st century learning. The objective of 21st century learning is to build capacity in areas that promote a resilient society capable of effectively adapting to rapid change. It represents a shift in emphasis from the instruction of facts to a model which focuses on competencies such as critical thinking, character, creativity, innovation, as well as digital and computer literacy.

This report takes stock of efforts by five provincial governments to adapt their respective elementary and secondary education systems to incorporate 21st century learning models. It reviews provincial education policies then presents the results of a survey commissioned as part of this report and fielded to teachers in each of the provinces under examination – all with a view to better understanding the extent to which 21st century learning is being implemented within Canada.

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