The Square Peg

The square peg. It doesn’t fit very well into a round hole but I was reminded of this analogy the other day when thinking of our education system. Growing up, I remember vividly those teachers that I connected with. I especially remember those times when I was allowed to choose a topic or had choice in how to pursue a given topic. I was an individual and my output could be different from others. Times have changed, and while I am older and arguably wiser, the crux of good practice remains the same. Promoting choice and allowing student ownership of learning is crucial. If students are to be considered pegs then they are as unique as a snowflake and just as varied. The corresponding “hole” should not be a predetermined round one but would be best viewed as a fluid shape or even a landing or launching pad.

Unfortunately, the easy route often leads to a "one size fits all" approach where every student "peg" MUST fit into the predetermined hole. If it doesn't fit properly, then we tend to force it to fit; the resulting frustration from students, teachers and parents can be counter productive to say the least. This factory model of education while comfortable practice is not a good fit. Teacher preparation programs have for years promoted concepts such as "open ended questions" yet how we were taught as children is often our default model.

It is encouraging, and validating to many, to witness how our the educational world is rapidly changing. While technology is opening many doors and options, the underlying principles of It is encouraging to see many of my colleagues transform and enhance their practice. From our own Ministry of Education’s BC Ed Plan to colleagues locally and around the world that are transforming their learning, the wave is spreading.

In Surrey, there are numerous project leaders, including the following (and apologies to those I have missed): Flat Classrooms, Making Learning Visible, Genius Hour, A Class of 21st Century Learners, Its all About The Learning, and Vendramins Views. In large part this was led by our Director of Instruction’s Innovative Learning Designs .

We have known for years that students come with unique skills, experiences and learning styles. What do the pegs look like at your school?

Snowflake Photo used with permission from J J Schad
JJ Schad


About dchila

Welcome! My name is Don Chila and I currently am the Vice Principal at M.B. Sanford Elementary in Surrey BC (Canada), and have the privilege of working with over 500 remarkable students. I am constantly inspired by the dedicated and talented staff with which I work. I have taught in Surrey for 20 years, including as a Vice Principal for the past 6 years and am amazed at how quickly this time has flown by. I have worked with a variety of gifted educators and Administrators with each contributing to my own style and talents. I am passionate about doing everything I can to maximize my students learning. The current state of technology is invigorating and I am thrilled at how this is unfolding at Cindrich, our District, and globally. When I first started, the IT department was 2, my Principal was using a Colour Classic, and we soon opened a "state of the art" lab with Mac LC's. Having a 16 year old teen "techie" also enhances my experiences as I have the opportunity to look at learning from his eyes. The maxim " Building a Bridge While Walking on it" truly is where I am and where I strive to stay as a life-long learner.
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