Oct 12
The Times of Our Lives...


"If I don’t belong, I don’t see why what I do or how I am will influence and impact others. 
So, I don’t really have an incentive to care...You can’t ask people to have a sense of mutuality 
and agency and to build the communities in human-centered schools if they don’t 
have the sense of belonging, the sense of relating, or the sense of being part of 
something bigger than themselves." 
- Dr. Ulcca Joshi Hansen, 
The Future of Smart: How Our Education System Needs to Change 
to Help All Young People Thrive 


As our school grapples with building community and a sense of belonging in these days of 'fourth wave COVID-19 infections' that continue to restrict and limit possibilities for learning in a community, there are so many questions and concerns that are bubbling up almost every single day - worries about student achievement and learning after three years of pandemic impact, as well as worries about health and safety in these last few weeks before childhood vaccines are approved and available for 5-12 year olds.  If does feel like it is impossible to make decisions about anything that will last longer than a few days before something causes yet another change to process, product or organization. 

With that in the back of my mind, I spent some time recently considering the upcoming municipal election, the candidates that are running for the various positions - especially the school Trustee positions - and the referendum questions. I don't have any recommendations for the election, but a couple of things stood out for me - mention of traffic concerns in school zones, for example, as well as protection of wetland areas were issues that have been raised by our families and our learners over the past few years, so it is timely to see them at least surface on some election-related websites. These are issues that also impact our abilities to build community - from traffic around the school to conservation of the outdoor places where our students love to learn, creating a sense of belonging and community is never a straightforward or easy task.   

One issue that I did spend some time exploring was the question about establishing permanent daylight savings time. I had never given this much thought beyond not having to remember to either drop back or jump ahead with the clocks in my home twice a year.  As I began to read about the issue, I realized there were many different considerations - everything from circadian clocks to extended business opportunities to either increased or reduced traffic accidents, depending on which research I explored.  There was one fact that stood out for me as I tried to make sense of the issues: the fact that if the daylight savings referendum goes ahead, the sun will rise in December/January around 9:00 - 9:30 am - well after school has begun. The weeks in December when the sun currently rises at 8:20 - 8:30 am - usually just before winter break begins - are always challenging for schools as children are navigating streets and buses in the dark and safety concerns are prominent.  Extending that 'worry period' even longer than usual, and placing children in potentially greater jeopardy would not be something I would advocate. It is a consideration I had not been previously aware of before doing some rather extensive digging these past couple of weeks.  I would encourage families to do some research as well, before October 18th, into the time change question. 

As the effects of this pandemic endure, it is becoming increasingly clear humanity is shifting in its' values, relationships, perspectives and tolerances no matter where we live in the world. Nothing is the same and the possibilities - if they ever existed - of a 'somewhat return' to what used to be seem to fade more with each passing day that brings the unfolding of extremely complex issues and concerns. It appears COVID-19 is a multiple-layer, very complicated interruption with much greater long-term, continually evolving consequences than we ever imagined. In terms of schools and education, the challenges of building a vibrant, forward-thinking community of learners fully engaged in quality learning experiences have exponentially increased in complexity, even as the world continues to evolve and change with little regard for the immense pressures schools are under to both protect children's health and advance learning - two initiatives that often seem to be completely opposite in their intentions as well as their actions. 

The challenges are enormous - but I believe educators, learners, administrators are all more than up to meeting the challenges with vision, energy and innovation!

These are definitely the times of our lives - busy, demanding, constrained, unpredictable, layered with endless competing interests and shifting perspectives. As we continue our journeys with uncertainty, unpredictability and at least a little trepidation, I believe it will be imperative for us to hold relationships, belonging and community building as our guiding beacons, bringing us together in new connections and purpose.

"Up until this moment, the safest path was to give your kid what worked for you. 
I would argue that this generation of parents is probably the first one to have 
to deeply grapple with the fact that if you put your kid on the path that the
 conventional system gave most of us, it’s like walking down a
 sidewalk that’s crumbling towards you. The world is changing and 
what our children need to know and do in the world they will enter
 as young adults can’t be learned within the mainstream system of education. "
- Dr. Ulcca Joshi Hansen, 
The Future of Smart: How Our Education System Needs to Change 
to Help All Young People Thrive 

Lorraine Kinsman, Principal
Eric Harvie School


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