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Ever found the curricula in public schools to be too rigid or failing to suit certain students’ learning styles? Well, the Vernon Community School (VCS) offers a slightly different take on learning.
VCS was established in 2014 and is located inside Vernon’s Clarence Fulton Secondary. It was approved by the local school board on the basis that it be referred to as a program within a secondary school with declining enrollment.
Currently, VCS consists of 80 students from grades seven to eleven and an array or associated parents, mentors, teacher candidates from UBC Okanagan and educators from the Vernon School District.
At VCS, the program focuses on social justice, celebrating inclusion and diversity, and fostering student engagement through BC’s new revised curriculum.
UBC researchers are currently collaborating with educators at VCS to re-imagine the future of education by observing the students’ learning environment and their relationship with the educators.
According to Leyton Schnellert, an assistant professor at the UBC Okanagan in the Faculty of Education, part of their work is to examine how the communities can play a bigger role in constructing school curriculums.
“As co-researchers we are inquiring with VCS educators, families, students, and mentors to document how curriculum can be co-constructed through the passions and interests of students and community,” said Schnellert, “VCS has realized the potential of inquiry-based learning for empowering students to be the authors of their own identities and learning.”
As well, according to Margaret Macintyre Latta, who is also a UBC professor in the Faculty of Education, the research currently underway at VCS extends beyond the confines of the classroom.
“The work being done at Vernon Community School extends far beyond the immediacies of the classroom,” said Macintyre. “It is reshaping long-term understandings of what constitutes education, curriculum and community.”
“Learning at VCS is a process that involves the community: including teachers, students, mentors, and parents. Co-researchers remain committed to research the learning that is happening at VCS, embodying new ways of learning that move away from competition and control, and focus on collective growth and well-being. This research is helping to create a language to reflect the current landscape of education.”