Commitment to lifelong learning

As the pace of cultural and technological change quickens, it is more apparent than ever before that we all must be learners for life. Part of the vision of the Ontario Ministry of Education is to give students the skills they need to pursue lifelong learning. But a 2010 report by the Canadian Council on Learning argued that Canada is falling behind in this pursuit. It maintains that other developed nations are doing far more to support lifelong learning. As Canada struggles to get policies in place to promote learning for life, independent schools are bridging the gap. This is a critical need – it is anticipated that many of the skills required today will be very different from those in demand tomorrow.

Definitions of lifelong learning vary, but the European Commission’s definition is a good example of why independent schools are leaders in this area. The Commission views lifelong learning as “all learning activity undertaken throughout life, with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competence, within a personal, civic and social and/or employment related perspective.”

What is important here is that this definition goes beyond the concept of learning simply for the purposes of employment. It infers that learning for personal, civic or social purposes is equally critical. Independent schools have long recognized the importance of giving students the skills they need to keep up with changing technology and employer needs, but at the same time we believe that education must encompass the entire individual. At our school, that means we emphasize critical thinking, creative expression, spiritual development, wellness, social justice, leadership and environmental consciousness. In other words, we give our students the skills they need to learn for life in all spheres: personal, civic, social and employment related.

Of course, in order for learning to be sustained over a lifetime, it has to be fun. That’s why independent schools offer so many dynamic programs, such as PC’s outdoor education, equestrian training or our CRTC-licensed radio station. We work to create a nurturing environment where students are free to try new things, achieve new skills and learn from failure. As they do, they learn what inspires them and gives them happiness – pretty powerful ingredients for a lifetime of learning.

For more information on how we encourage lifelong learning, visit our website at www.pickeringcollege.on.ca.