Leslie McBeth is a teacher who doesn’t like classrooms and dreams of one day building a school without walls. In the meantime, she aims to design experiences that take students out of the school building and into the community to provide meaningful, real-world education.
As a teacher of Green Industries at Greenwood College School, Leslie uses her passion for all things urban to engage students in design thinking and project-based learning activities that use the city as a teaching tool. From reimagining Toronto’s waterfront landscape, to entering architecture competitions or engaging in dialogue with city leaders, Leslie’s students learn from real-world experiences that require lateral thinking, adaptability, collaboration, and an understanding of what makes a great city.
In her former life in New York City, Leslie built the foundation of a city-based, "urban investigations" teaching philosophy at the Center for Urban Pedagogy. Prior to that, she was an advocate for improving the public built environment as part of the team at the Design Trust for Public Space, where she fell in love with cities and discovered the power of design.
Reading, Writing, Math, Science….Cities. Why urban pedagogy should be core to our curriculum.
Leslie believes that teachers need to prepare young people for an increasingly urbanized, ever-changing future in which they will be required to not only shape the political, social and economic landscape, but also the physical landscape of our cities. She will argue that project-based learning using the city as a teaching tool should not be a fringe elective course for students, but a core part of the curriculum that has the power to engage students in their community, develop empathy, and build creative thinking skills that are critical for young people to thrive in the future.