Concepts like intrinsic motivation and intellectual exploration are hard for the prosaic mind to grasp, whereas test scores, like sales figures or votes, can be calculated and charged and used to define success and failure.
Alfie Kohn, The Schools Our Children Deserve (1999)

the change learning project

Educating to Thrive in the 21st Century

The Change Learning Project is an innovative, multi-stage initiative to transform the way we understand and structure education in Canada. The purpose of the project is to create and implement a redesigned educational model—one that is rooted in what we know about how children learn and develop, and one that involves parents and community, addresses the whole child and meets the needs of our 21st century realities.

[[|Classroom Connections]], in concert with the acclaimed U.K.-based [[|21st Century Learning Initiative]] and with support from the [[|Canadian Council on Learning]], is spearheading the Change Learning Project. We believe that band-aid solutions and short-sighted reform will never be enough. We need to re-think and re-create an alternative to today’s out-of-date and under-performing industrial age education model.

This is a long-term initiative designed to bring together international research and best practices to synthesize what we now know about how humans learn and thrive, and then put this knowledge into concrete action. But where do you start to initiate such fundamental change in a system that is so entrenched? Our answer is to start where the need is greatest – where youth are most at risk and critical social issues are forcing communities to re-think the purpose, structure and process of education. Change Learning is looking to develop partnerships with communities ready to ‘opt out’ of the status quo and undertake significant and far-reaching change.

To date, we are excited to report that we have confirmed partnerships with two ‘lab communities’ – the Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN) in The Pas, Manitoba, and North Central Regina, a predominantly First Nations area in the inner city. We have also confirmed participation and support from both the Saskatchewan and Manitoba Ministries of Education, as well as a wide range of project partners including: Lloyd Axworthy; the University of Winnipeg; the University of Manitoba Department of Education; the University College of the North; University of Saskatchewan; the Assembly of First Nations; and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. Together we are setting the stage to re-envision education.

Project Initiation

The [[|Canadian Council on Learning]] has agreed to provide a portion of the seed money to initiate the project. The ‘initiation phase’ involves spending an estimated six months formalizing community partnerships, meeting with our network of foundations and potential sponsors, and creating formal proposals, in order to raise approximately $1M for the full development of the framework.

Phase One: Building the Framework.
This phase will last 12-18 months and will involve:

  • Working with national and international teams to create a user-friendly synthesis of the current research on the brain, human development, the learning process and community-building
  • Deeper investigation of interesting/promising initiatives related to community-building, the development of social capital and education/learning/student success
  • Working within each of the two communities we have identified to engage citizens and civic institutions and to develop a shared local vision for education that they will actively support
  • Creating Opaskwayak Cree Nation and North Central Regina “Community Pledges” indicating what community members are prepared to do to support the realization of their shared vision for every child
  • Pulling together the research, ideas and shared vision to form a framework—a new paradigm of community and learning—that describes what is possible and what works
  • Building a strategic plan to employ the framework within each community to construct tailored models of learning and social development.

To discuss this initiative, become involved or step forward as a possible Co-Champion, please contact: Heather MacTaggart,

Check the [[|Change Learning Project blog]] for updates on this initiative.

To view a list of Change Learning Project friends and supporters, view the attached document, below.

Important Reading: 
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