Each year, the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference invites more than 200 participants from across the country to take part in a three-week study program with the goal of developing and improving decision-making abilities in future Canadian leaders, as well as broadening their understanding of Canada and its regions.
The participants come from business, labour, government and the broader community. The entire group typically meets for three days and then breaks into smaller study groups for eight days of travel, observation and debate before reconvening in Ottawa to discuss what they’ve learned.
Two weeks ago, one of the breakout groups spent a morning in the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Education, where they were given an overview of the issues that confront education in general and educators in particular.
“With K-12 and post-secondary education rapidly evolving and methods of teaching and learning in a constant state of growth and adaptation, it is imperative that tomorrow’s leaders understand the challenges faced by educators and governments,” says Dean Dennis Sumara. “Nowhere is this more evident than in the Faculty of Education, where research into how we learn and what we know about the manner in which we learn has shown that it is time to re-think education.”
In her presentation to the group, Sharon Friesen, vice-dean and associate professor in the Faculty of Education, also discussed Alberta's direction with respect to education and the faculty's structure and direction. According to Friesen, the group had a lot of well-thought-out questions that clearly demonstrated an openness and interest into new possibilities in teaching and learning.
On each day of their tour, the group submitted entries into a blog.
“This was a fascinating and far-reaching analysis of what is working and what is not working in K-20 education today … an avalanche in the availability of online content will make lecture-based instruction obsolete overnight,” they write of the visit to the University of Calgary campus. “The real value of local instruction will be all hands-on work: group work, projects and, in higher education, laboratories.”
Sumara sat in on the presentation and says he was impressed by the group.
“Everyone was so engaged — and the group itself was so diverse — I’m excited for our future,” he says.
“Programs like the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference are key to educating our next generation of leaders.”