The little school around the corner from us is up on the chopping block so tonight we’re heading off to a school board meeting to show support for keeping it open, even though we are one of a number of families who have gone elsewhere. Apparently our reasons are fairly typical. We heard rumours of it closing from the moment we moved into the neighbourhood so we mentally dismissed it as a possibility before we even really considered it.
Plus we, like so many other parents, want “special” programming. We’ve ended up at the next closest school, still within easy walking distance in a French Immersion program (woohoo we won the lottery!).
When we were considering French Immersion last year a wise friend and colleague said to me that if your kid emerges from elementary school with basic literacy, numeracy and social skills, it’s done its job. Learning a second language is a bonus. This grounded me (somewhat.)
Don’t expect scintillating project based learning, creative analysis and action on world issues, experimentation in democratic decision-making, outdoor experiences, rich storytelling, exposure to a variety of modes of artistic expression, creative use of various technologies and tools. Don’t not expect that either- you just might find a teacher or two who can provide some of that, or a school community that takes on some aspect of it.
By the end of term one I’m focusing on the basics. There are over 600 kids at Hastings. There are 4 “safety monitors” at recess. Harry, with his still unshaken faith in his own super-hero ability is engaging in some kind of game of cat and mouse with the bigger kids (“the bad boys”). He knows what bully means. He looks at me like I have horns growing out of my head when I tell him to go to a grown-up if trouble starts. Where exactly might they be?
It’s early days but I find myself wondering if this big a school can truly be the caring, kind community it aspires to be, especially in BC’s current political climate where cutting anything to do with children is fair game. In reading through the comments on the blog and discussion forum to keep Garibaldi open I came across a parent who said her child knows the name of everyone at the school. That sounds pretty damn good to me right now.
I’ve got lots of ideas how a small school like Garibaldi might truly reflect and serve this incredibly, culturally diverse neighbourhood we live in and help prepare kids for lives in these very uncertain times. I’m not alone- there are many creative and impassioned ideas of what this school might be.
When I take Dex on his morning shamble through the back lanes I am daily struck by the sheer creative ingenuity that generations of my neighbours bring to growing food in a small, urban space. What a magical, experimental, learning and growing space we could create on the school grounds. It’s got this fabulous southern exposure. I’d love to see examples of urban forest gardening, a Chinese medicinal garden and gathering space where our Asian elders could practice tai chi (they’re often on the bit of lawn at the front of the school by the road.)
It’s those images that I’ll be meditating on at the meeting tonight.