Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Learning Place

Entrance to the school

Sometimes it is good to go away and see what others are doing.  It helps to see things from others perspectives.  It kind of jolts you into rethinking or thinking differently.  This past week I was fortunate to go to Haida Gwaii (the joys of working part time).  I got to walk on the beach and through the forest, go to art galleries and museums.  I got to soak in the beauty and the culture.  I also had the opportunity to visit a school in Skidegate and sit in on a teacher meeting about reading for the CR4YRs project (Changing Results for Young Readers).

This elementary school was both beautiful and unique, and what I was struck with was the obvious presence of the Haida culture.  The school itself had natural light, and a lot of natural wood – beams and carvings, nooks and crannies, places to sit and think, murals on the walls with sayings about nature, slanted walls in places … and there was also a great deal of the Haida language present, and art, drums and painted paddles.  There were photos of elders who speak the traditional language in the foyer of the school. The teachers explained that the children take classes in the Haida language – Haida immersion they called it.

Looking down one hallway
I was struck by how beautiful and rich the school felt, and how welcoming and special it was.  Even the classrooms were different, not square boxes … just a little bit different. A few slanted walls, a different kind of entrance way, a padded bench here and there.  I loved being there with natural light coming through the ceiling around the beams.  School … an interesting learning place.

Student Art
If I was a child of Haida ancestry, I think I would come to school knowing that my culture and language were appreciated and respected.  And if I wasn’t of Haida ancestry, I would be so curious about the culture and attracted to it. 

It made me think of our schools.   How inviting are they to kids and parents of various cultures, especially our students of Aboriginal ancestry?  What could we do to show appreciation and respect for their culture?  How can we make our schools a place where all kids can more easily belong and connect?

Language Posted

by Judith King

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