A UBC expert reflects on how education has changed during her 46-year career and how some things have remained the same
The Faculty of Education at UBC’s Okanagan campus turns 25 this month, dating back to when the campus was home to Okanagan University College. Associate Professor Vicki Green draws interesting lessons from a career dedicated to teaching students and new teachers.
What is the biggest change you have seen in education?
The biggest change today is how rushed and anxious children and youth feel. There doesn’t seem to be room for children’s boredom as there used to be. The pace has changed. One wonders how much time is set aside for imagination and contemplation. Education takes place beyond classrooms. Multiple sites make spaces for children and youth to demonstrate their interests, attributes and successes.
What hasn’t changed since your first day on the job?
Children and youth want to be accepted and competent participants in their learning. They have many stories that have significance. Children’s needs are foremost in the classroom.
Schools still smell of cleaning materials and have lockers. Desks are similar but different. Classrooms are open and bright. Diversity has always been a reality in our classrooms. Schools are still the heart of their communities and places of innovation, creativity, action and agency. Schools are still underfunded and teachers are still underpaid. Education takes a large portion of the provincial budget but it will never be enough.
If you could go back, what advice would you give yourself as you walked into your first teaching job?
I would remember my mother’s words of wisdom when she said, “Be yourself, seek humour and be open.” I would tell myself to remember you are there for the children and their questions. The Ministry, the curriculum and all that you learned at university are important, but so are the curiosity and abilities you developed in your life beyond school. Acknowledge that all the children in your classroom have outside lives too, and find a place for them within your classroom. Have fun.