In Education we were taught that if we were to be in a helping field, then master teachers like Paolo Freire could be read to exemplify the caring component. And in practice, over the many years when lucky to engage with so many different school programs, so many different communities and cultures, one begins to combine the theories of Anthropology, and the theories of Education, to uncover how they offer a symbiotic relationship for practice. And in entering any new space, classroom, work space, volunteer organization, keeping that mantra front and centre allows one to absorb the culture, and when lucky to fully participate in it. Then one may also offer opinions, for such opinions will be based on the community and not merely from an outsider’s point of view. And that is how communities of care change, when new voices are shared without fear, and when room is made to accommodate one more.
Personally, my mantra has borrowed from the Hippocratic oath simplified in “First – DO NO HARM!” And combine Head and Heart with every action – bring to the room the thinking /feeling individual one is, and look for these two characteristics in others.
The End Result: a space where all involved have a voice- their own.
When I have food in the house I can eat
When I eat I can breathe as in meditate and think clearly
When I can think I can communicate
When I can communicate I can get others to care
When I can get others to care the sharing begins
When we all learn how to share, the caring grows
It all begins with nourishment…
Written by me today, August 6, 2015
As as educator I see first hand the effects of poverty, ignorance, and marginalization. Before we open doors in the hopes of opening minds this upcoming 2015-2016 school year, let’s make sure that our students actually do have the basics- they can continue to grow only with these necessities covered.
It is summer and as an advocate of library summer reading clubs and healthy relaxation activities – camps, stay at home vacations, family visits, road trips you name it…I am fully encouraging all to let the children self select the books, comics, graphic novels that they wish to read through; I do however maintain that reading for pleasure is not for everyone- and this is ok. It doesn’t change the fact that as an educator I will be encouraging students to understand how to read for facts- a skill they will require throughout their lives. Reading for “fun” is liking doing anything for “fun”; each of us has some things we prefer to do over other things. I am one who reminds parents that indeed not all will relax with a novel- or a movie, or a pair of skates, or a bike ride etc. As an educator with a focus on reading and writing, my goal is first not to scare anyone away from learning in general, then to encourage my students to grow in whichever aspect suits them best…
Active learning implies engagement on the part of the participant- which is one of the reasons we have a resurgence of formal endorsements to encourage everyone to “play.” For some, reading is a form of play, when the novel allows the reader to imagine different situations and to become concerned about the characters in the story. And this magical transference between author and reader is an activity which takes place inside the brain and which later translates into emotions, some more clearly understood than others. But just as the body requires strength to do certain physical activities the leaps we ask the brain to perform when concentrating on mental or cognitive actions are also exercises, strengthening a particular type of focus.
Currently in Toronto, are the PAN AM games which will be followed by the PARAPAN AM GAMES – when practiced athletes from the American hemisphere convene and demonstrate their courage and ability to perform live at an exercise they have not only honed through continuous practice but which many have simply felt they “had to do.” Readers and writers can be like this too- needing to read more, needing to write more- and in time, needing to share more. Our role as educators is to encourage our learners to take chances, within safe environments to stretch a little further, try something a little more challenging, and to help them, the learners “discover” who they might be and what they want to learn more of. Having written this I realize that many are still hoping that school will be the place where all skills develop- even in 2015 where we as a society have begun to recognize how very much learning can and does take place in non-school environments.
Consider the multiple ways your child engages with life, and add a little reading to this package, then the reading to learn can become real when the child needs to inquire and recognizes some ( not all ) answers may be available through written ( or diagrammed, or graphed or illustrated…) sources. Imagine though learning how to skip a rope via diagrams- or to play the drums, or to swim…and allow for the hands-on experiences which provide balance to the cognitive action.
Reading and the concept of literacy has expanded to encompass the multiple ways we do engage with the world around us- Enjoy the summer!
sign on a bag of potatoes: “Fat, Gluten and Cholestrol Free”
and I had to laugh at what else I might find on food products that were in effect “signs of the times” and a reflection of marketing and what might appeal to shoppers as I considered a hands- on, end- of- school- year, project based learning inquiry.
Disclaimer: I eat potatoes in all their varieties, sweet, boiled, mashed, french fried, and often think about how basic some products were to regional cooking and to history- the potato famine being an actual World History event…Ireland’s Great Famine of 1845 -1849. An educator could combine historical events, global trade today, and fashion in food marketing and then work these themes into both an out of classroom experience via a trip to a few different markets -formal grocery chains, farmer’s markets, and if in the school budget a trip to a farm. The exercise could also incorporate a review of media and advertising looking at one or two specific products to recognize how fashionable (read “healthy”) the products were viewed. In addition, Financial Literacy may be incorporated, when the pricing of the object is related to the marketing, the availabilty, and the perceived popularity of the product.
In Canada, more and more people are recognizing how difficult it is for Northern populations to obtain some basic food products that people in larger cities may take for granted. Also taken for granted sometimes is the notion that being a first world country, few would be going hungry. Depending on the age of the students, and many high school students do need volunteer hours, recognizing both the real need for Food Banks in urban cities and valuing school community gardens and school food programs could be offshoots of this project. While some schools have begun community gardens they are not yet a part of all school programs and perhaps inter school visits – even via Skype – could become part of the programming… But I’m getting ahead of myself here and realize in fact this could be also a WELCOME BACK project in the fall- begun in the spring as a whole school holistic approach to learning and continued in the fall with the followup being the actual food products grown. The question of tending the garden over the summer months could earn a lot of students extra volunteer hours 🙂
Commencement: It is a lovely word with the suggestion of more to come.
Playing Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young and wondering how these four men managed to capture beautifully in lyric and score the feelings of parents; so deeply moving when we do “look at them and sigh, and know they love you…”
Grace and beauty just walked out the door together, intent on a project and pleased to share – and I feeling truly blessed have the afternoon “free”, and time to catch up with writing, reading, cleaning (housework rarely takes care of itself), and Yes, Thinking. So often we are deluged with activities that simple “quiet time” now comes at a premium, to be cherished and appreciated.
Mother’s day for me began the minute I knew I was pregnant with each of them, and has continued daily since; blessed with a son and a daughter, each uniquely capable and caring, and filled with that exuberance of personality that needn’t be restricted but ought to be unleashed- “Hello World”- they are ready for you! And as a Mom, I couldn’t ask for anything more.
And as always, special good wishes to the parents of the children I am fortunate to have taught and those I continue to work with- You are Amazing
Enjoy the day! And if you have the minute- give a listen to “Teach the Children”
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