There are some issues that I, as your school, trustee, will bring up and follow-through with as a member of the Winnipeg School Division Board. Some are not being discussed much in this by-election. One issue I would like to discuss here is food security (also food sovereignty). It is urgent and needs to be addressed. I plan to make it one of my top priorities.
Food security means communities having access to a stable, affordable and nutritious food supply. There are many definitions of food security, but that’s it in a nutshell. However we define it, we all know of someone who has made use of food banks at one time or another, or perhaps we are using food banks today. More of us still understand the tough choices at grocery stores and supermarkets whereby nutritious choices are sacrificed in the name of a lower grocery bill (hello Wonder Bread). For those who are or have recently been food producers – farmers, hunters, fishers, gatherers, gardeners – and have lost access to their land or faced pollution, food sovereignty is perhaps a better way to frame the problem. Continue reading
There are so many ingredients that go into raising and educating a child. At one time – a simpler time, no doubt – children had the run of the entire village, and later the neighbourhood, from which to learn.
Then fear set in as isolated, but scary cases of sociopathy & other individual pathologies moved in. The neighbourhood, while still familiar and generally still the domain of children, no longer serves as the safe spatial crucible it once did. Continue reading
This Thanksgiving, let’s thank the teachers. They inspire and show up to teach, even if their heads hurt or their hearts ache. Their noses run or their cars broken down. They put aside their personal lives for some hours each day knowing they are personally affecting the lives of about 15-30 children for a day.
Let us thank the EAs, who each day work with those who require some individual attention and recognition, and they do so in often silent and thankless ways. They support education in often intangible ways.
Let’s not forget the bus drivers who navigate our insane traffic of single-vehicle occupancy with a precious cargo they deliver faithfully each day. Thank you.
And let’s be grateful for the cast of supporting characters without whom the system would not function for a day: the administrative assistants, the custodians, the guests who come and teach from their own place on the diverse wheel that makes up this society.
Let us also be grateful for the infrastructure and social organization that we have, even though it is far from perfect and sometimes operating more on inertia than inspiration. Still, we have places throughout our province for our children to go ‘where everybody knows their names.’
Let us not take all this for granted. We all get critical sometimes, but we must remember we are always building on top of something previous. At the same time, let us now think that gratefulness is enough. Let us not think the status quo is sufficient, or can maintain itself. The ecosphere teaches that all life is constantly in decay, ever breaking-down. Continue reading
I took, and still take, education very seriously.
I knew when I enrolled in the 2-year post-degree Education program at U of W back in 2014 that I was being pragmatic but that I would find it a struggle to deal with the structure of the program. Actually, I work quite well with certain structures, but I anticipated that the program would move too quickly for critical thinking. Boy was I right.
See, I concluded when I quit the program five weeks in that I took education too seriously to be in a 2-year professional program. I wanted to study education as its own subject, to be exposed to a wide range of educational theories, to not only read from authors within the mainstream profession as currently practiced in North America, but to hear also from Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education (big in Europe but just scratching the surface here) or from Maria Montessori. These successful alternative models may offer our mainstream public systems some advice as to where to go in a society where children’s imagination is being filtered through first TV sets and now computers, and whose connections to nature have diminished steadily over the past 60 years.
Considering the bigger picture of education
I just wanted us to take education seriously, to step back from the dogmas of our system and get into the root philosophy of education. To question the values and virtues we are trying to transmit in education, and to gain a deeper understanding of the field’s evolution as a whole. Continue reading
What’s more important than education?
I am running for WSD Trustee in Ward 7 because I care deeply about education and feel it is the most important system in our society. At a time when our society is struggling with alarming poverty rates, children are often the ones who feel it most. Our hyper-modern, hi-tech speed can be stressful on families -children especially – and we need to encourage more outdoor- and community-based learning, to satisfy children’s natural curiosity in their worlds.
Redesigning our use of school space to transform our communities
We can transform our schools and our school properties into shared community learning places. We already are heating and cooling our buildings all day and should be using the spaces after hours and in summers to facilitate workshops that teach the skills necessary for us to transform the fabric of our society into a more ecological, socially just and caring one. Once children see their families, neighbours and communities at large starting to care more for our shared world, this cooperative spirit will inspire the current generation of students to build a more sustainable world for all.
“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” -Arundhati Roy
As a parent, as a citizen
I would consider serving as school trustee to be a sacred communal responsibility and would use my networking abilities, past involvement in many local movements, and my research skills to highlight how WSD can use its collective resources to redesign our system in light of the social, ecological, and economic crises disrupting the environment in which we are raising our children.
As my own son starts to attend nursery in Ward 7, I am in it for the long haul.
So, I’ve taken education very seriously for quite some time. Probably going back to my days as a philosophy student at U of W in the mid-1990s, when I was really learning to think critically. I began to realize then – though it took studying ecology from my mentor, the late Vere Scott of the green movement in Manitoba, to understand the application – that systems can suffer from intertia and that when we try to solve problems using the logic of the system that is failing, we miss out on opportunities to correct failures, and often cause new problems.
In other words, a redesign of our system could be more efficient than the problem management approach we so often see. Caught in the politics of panic, we do not step back and re-evaluate. We forget the forest for the trees, forget the values that we wish to instill in our children, not to mention the values by which we conduct our society.
We find ourselves in the midst of several crises: the massively high levels of poverty highlight our economic crisis, as the gap between rich and poor increases; we just passed 400 ppm of atmospheric greenhouse gases and the City of Winnipeg released at least 1 million litres of raw sewage into the very Red that transects this most diverse Ward 7 of the Winnipeg School division. Many reports have been written about the nature deficit that city dwellers experience, bereft of wild places as development continues to encroach (consider the Parker Wetlands) and we lack time in our busy lives to go off of the beaten track. On top of this all is a technological crisis: we continue to unleash digital technologies without stopping to consider the impacts they are having on our bodies, minds and collective culture.
Children are acutely affected by these changes. They are inheriting a world of great uncertainty, and are perceptive to our at times indifference to our natural surroundings. They sense our struggles, that we are forgetting something, that there is a break in the transmission of our natural human heritage, evolved over thousands of years.
We owe it to them to not inherit this massive ecological and social debt we are leaving. As the traditional indigenous saying goes, ‘we do not inherit the world from our ancestors so much as borrow it from our children.’ Continue reading