What if Schools Didn’t Have Walls?

Sounds like a nice idea if we had great weather 365.

learning in nature.jpg
Not all great learning happens inside a classroom

I was actually asked this question during an interview a few years ago.  At first, I wasn’t sure where to go with it.  What did he mean ‘schools without walls’?  What’s holding up the roof?  What was he really asking me?

Change Can Be Difficult in Education – Well, We Need to Get Over That!

Full disclosure … I like predictability.

Predictability doesn’t equal Innovation

I like knowing that certain things have order and certain outcomes will occur. My science training conditioned me to make order out of disorder — to put things into virtual ‘buckets’ of similarities. I am conditioned to align characteristics and form inter-relationships between things.   Once something is in a bucket I prefer that it stays there and doesn’t move.

Predictability brings me comfort.

Predictability = Security

Opportunity or Catastrophe

It was my first year as Superintendent here in Saanich and I was extremely excited for my new beginning. Our senior team consisted of myself, two Assistant Superintendents and the Secretary-Treasurer (CFO). It was a really good team and one that I knew I could learn a lot from — it was an exciting time.

Within a few months I learned that both Assistant Superintendents would be moving on — one to a new job and the other to retirement. It was going to be a significant loss of institutional knowledge to the school district, including myself.

Was this an opportunity or a catastrophe?


The Japanese art of kintsugi teaches that broken objects are not something to hide but to celebrate by enhancing them with gold

It actually depends on your mindset. The ‘sky is falling’ crowd would find all sorts of reasons to despair. The optimist would look at it as an opportunity to find new ways of moving forward. I chose the latter.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There was certainly a small sense of ‘oh-oh’ at the beginning, but more because I hadn’t yet worked out a plan. I found the news actually quite motivating. Yes, there would be a significant shift in the team and a big loss of institutional knowledge, but it also gave me the opportunity to consider how else we might be able to support our schools, teachers and students in a better way.