Some Many Faces Education Centre students have returned from Winnipeg after an uncommon class field trip.
The group travelled to the provincial capital as part of Many Faces Education Centre’s “Big Picture Learning” (BPL) class. Taught by Daniel Dillon, the class aims to use different and, at times, unconventional methods to teach students. Instead of standardized tests, old textbooks and stuffy classrooms, BPL emphasizes individualized learning programs, technology use and practical real world experience.
“It’s a pilot program, so we’re piloting it this year to see if it’s something we can move forward with,” said Dillon, who is working on a master’s thesis on alternative education.
“It’s about projects, doing internships, running it from where the students can learn where they come from based on project-based learning.”
There are currently only two schools with full-fledged BPL programs in Canada. Those schools, Maples Met School and Seven Oaks Met School, are both are located in Winnipeg. Dillon and his student group visited both schools. Dillon hopes Many Faces can become the third.
“The program that they run, they’re the only schools in the country that run a Big Picture Learning program. We’re looking at bringing the third one in Canada here to the north and doing it through Many Faces,” said Dillon.
The group also took in WE Day at Bell MTS Place on Oct. 30 and visited Red River College and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
They also travelled to some locations not typical for a student field trip to the city.
The BPL group visited Bill Worb Furs, a fur and leathercraft location where Worb himself told students about the history of the northern fur trade.
“We met the original Bill Worb. He’s 96 and he came in just to see the kids and to give the kids a talk,” said Dillon. “We looked at the fur trade and how the north and Flin Flon connects with the south and Winnipeg and where the furs go, from the traplines in the north to being sold to a larger market in the south. He gave us a full tour.”
The group also attended the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba, learning about the often tragic history of Indigenous and Western relations, including colonization and Canada’s residential school system.
“At the University of Manitoba, there is a physical space where they house all the documentation, the references, content, artifacts. They are the holders of all of this content for the entire country, based on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission looking into the cultural genocide of residential schools,” said Dillon.
“We went there and there was a guided talk, where people talked about what the commission does, the importance of having this space, the calls to action, looking at how we could bring this into the curriculum and our teaching.”
Indigenous learning and history is an important part of Dillon’s work at Many Faces. He said he covers the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action in his teaching.
“We’re coupled with the elders in the community and they’re doing some work with the students. They’re going to be working with an artist on caribou hair tufting. One of the pieces of that is looking through the lens of truth and reconciliation. I wanted to take them down to witness firsthand some of the information and records that are in the archives,” he said.