We had an excellent in depth discussion of K-12 education in Manitoba.
There was a vigorous discussion of the role of school boards in providing local input and local wisdom into the delivery of education.
There was a good discussion of the importance of ensuring that children have the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic, and consideration of whether coding should be considered a basic skill in today's digital world.
To improve the overall performance of children, it is vital to be able help children who are struggling. This includes providing optimum support for children with learning disabilities. This also includes ensuring that children are attending school so that they can learn. Improved access to psychological testing and to psychological therapy were mentioned as important in helping children with learning disabilities. Providing an exciting, positive and inspiring experience in school, which includes art, theatre and sports can be important to keep children in school so that they can learn their more academic subjects.
Ideas for improving the learning environment and for helping to empower children and to give them greater self-confidence were part of the conversation. These ideas included putting a focus on helping every child to learn to be a leader. These included the concepts developed in Met schools. The Met schools help children and youth to learn by focusing more on their own interests and passions, and by connecting children and youth to helpful people and organizations in their own community. The approach demonstrates that an effective child-centred and community connected model of education is possible. It was emphasized that full implementation of a Met school approach may be difficult in a rural area, but that elements of the approach used in Met schools could certainly be incorporated into rural education.
It was noted that students at many Manitoba schools are now much more diverse than they were twenty years ago. This is certainly true in Neepawa where there has been a large influx of families coming from the Philippines. Attention to diversity and improving our approach to helping children and families from varied backgrounds do well is important. Attention to mentorship, high expectations, inclusion and to children's mental and brain health were all considered.
Thank you to all who attended and contributed to the Forum. I felt there was a real sharing of ideas, and I certainly learned from the many excellent comments and suggestions that were put forward.