UBC’s Okanagan campus education students go beyond their textbooks
Vicki Green wants her students to get out of the classroom, especially when they become teachers.
The associate professor with the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus encourages the teachers of tomorrow to think beyond the classroom and search out alternative sites for learning.
Green says the most interesting teachers tend to have a passion for going beyond the textbooks to find the underlying story behind the lesson.
“That’s what makes social studies interesting: when the teachers know the different stories,” says Green. “Those kinds of teachers are curious themselves. They want to dig deeper. If they can find a story that is worth telling, that is the area I tell them to get into.”
Green’s students are encouraged to think outside of the classroom as long as what they are teaching is compatible with the mandated Kindergarten to Grade 7 curriculum.
“A teacher needs to know their learning style before they can meet the needs of their students,” says Green, who also teaches the graduate-level class Education Beyond the Classroom.
Ajmair Sahota is in her last year of university on her way to becoming an elementary school teacher and she credits Green with having a big influence on how she plans to teach her students.
“She instilled in us that education is about more than being in a classroom. It’s about applying learning to real life,” says Sahota.
Green’s students have five assignment options, from which they must choose two.
For example, to teach social studies, the teacher must know the past and Green sends her students to conduct interviews with area pioneers. Students use area museums’ archival photos and create historical narratives that are put on YouTube.
Not only is living history recorded through the interviews, but the students form a relationship with those from a different generation, giving them a greater ability to present the past with passion and insight.
Sahota says she not only learned a lot about the history of East Indians in Kelowna, but she made friends and discovered more than any text book could show her.
“It was so much fun. There is no way I could have learned that from a book. It was so valuable,” she says, adding talking with her subjects was like “talking with my grandparents.”
“She (Green) wants us to re-invent the wheel. She wants us to be different in how we teach,” Sahota says.
Museums throughout B.C.’s Okanagan Valley have benefited from these assignments, as the recordings are sent to them.
“Our partnership with Vicki has been so beneficial to the museum and the community,” says Michelle Harvey, curator of education and public programming with Kelowna Museums.
Harvey said the museum does not have the resources to go into the community and gather oral histories, but so far this year 18 students have approached the museum about doing just that.
“It’s really great to have all of this material. The feedback I have from them (interviewees) is it’s a really special experience,” says Harvey.