by Paul Romani (M.Ed.)

Provincial Exams: Pear Tree co-founder, Paul Romani, on CBC’s ‘On the Coast’ show

by Paul Romani (M.Ed.)

Pear Tree’s co-founder and director, Paul Romani, took part in a radio interview today with CBC’s Gloria Macarenko.

The discussion about about reforming education in BC (though mistitled to say that it was about changing the BC curriculum, which it was not).

Check out the interview using the link below.


How We Teach At Pear Tree

Pear Tree Elementary and our new middle school, Pear Tree Secondary, are the other elementary and secondary schools to teach through a holistic, theme-based approach.

In order for learning to be useful and meaningful, learning has to be connected to real life. Only through a theme-based approach can you achieve that.

What’s more, as learning is always interdisciplinary and connected to real life, learning at Pear Tree is considerably more challenging than learning in traditional learning environments, in other words schools that continue to teach through separate subjects, including IB schools.


Problems with current education

There are so many problems with education in both public and independent schools at present:

  • Subjects
  • Text books
  • Obsession with tests, rather than the process of learning
  • There is little to no connection to real life, especially at a high school level
  • Generally less qualified teachers, because schools don’t demand higher educated teachers
  • Most independent schools are run by parent committees – teachers have little to no voice – the term I’ve heard from teachers is the ‘golden handcuff schools’ – schools that have prestigious facilities, but do not treat them as professionals or ask for their advice about how to teach best
    Public schools are hampered by the BCTF, which puts the interests of one demographic of teachers ahead of all other teachers or the students themselves.

Provincial Exams

The new provincial exams are a very welcome addition to the revised BC curriculum, because they test the application of knowledge in an interdisciplinary manner and reflect the skills needed for students to succeed as adults and in the workplace!

Unfortunately, schools still teach through subject-based approaches where education isn’t applied or put into context. So, you have high school teachers and administrators looking at each other asking who’s responsible for teaching math in context and literacy in context, and few doing much to address this.

Then you have the stakeholder resistance, whether it’s the BCTF, the people who run the school, teachers – even parents and students can be resistant to change.

That’s why our school, Pear Tree Elementary and Pear Tree Secondary is so unique and so ahead of any other school in providing the kind of education that reflects both the modern times, but also the new provincial exams.


Provincial Exams Too Easy

It is very likely that the Ministry of Education knows how slow schools are to respond to the demands of the BC curriculum and new provincial exams. They know that schools have little to no idea of how to apply education to real life or how to teach in an interdisciplinary way.

As such, the current provincial exams, in our view, are too easy, but necessarily so because if kids are being prepared so poorly by both public and independent schools for these exams, they would get terrible exam results if the exams weren’t as easy as they are – and everyone would blame the Ministry for this, when, in fact, the schools are the ones to blame.

How to Change How Schools Teach

Firstly, it’s important to mention that the reason we opened Pear Tree Elementary was because we didn’t believe that any Vancouver school would make any significant changes anytime soon.

We realised that if you really want to bring about change, you have to do it yourself. That’s why we opened Pear Tree Education, and subsequently our elementary and now secondary school, Pear Tree Secondary.

As for other schools, it is not going to be easy to bring about any significance change anytime soon. It takes all educational stakeholders to bring about change, which in big schools with so much bureaucracy and so many people that love the status quo is going to be a miracle to achieve.

The first step is everyone acknowledging that change is necessary. We heard from one independent school leader that the kind of change that Pear Tree has brought is a welcome change, and that they too would love to do what we do. However, the parents who run the school and who invest so much money into the school would never allow that to happen.

At Pear Tree, we don’t receive or ask for donations from parents, and we own and run the school, so no parent will decide what education should be like at Pear Tree. Likewise, all of the teachers at Pear Tree are not only Masters qualified, but agree with and love our method of education.

The next step is training. Teachers and administrators need ongoing training on what theme-based learning is, how to implement it, how not to implement it, and how to assess it.