As educators, each one of us has a responsibility to guide and prepare the children and young people with whom we work. This is a privilege that should not be taken lightly. Understanding what an education means is equally important.
When St. Clement’s School was founded in 1901, its purpose was to ensure a different kind of education that, in addition to specific academic curriculum, taught children to be good citizens. Citizenship remains front of mind as one of six core competencies in our implementation of New Pedagogies for Deep Learning. Educators and researchers Michael Fullan, Joanne Quinn, and Joanne McEachen articulate that being an engaged citizen requires our students to become “global citizens who consider issues based on a deep understanding of diverse values and worldviews.” In order to ensure that our students acquire the ability to be good citizens, we have the responsibility as their educators to ensure we are modelling a deep understanding of diverse values and views as well. Failing to do so is detrimental to our children’s futures and, in devastating cases, their lives.
Last week our community, our country, and indeed many around the world were shocked and saddened to learn of the discovery of the remains of 215 children at the site of the Kamloops Residential School. I note that for many, this was not a surprise. Instead, it was a devastating confirmation of what they have always known: the existence of the heinous genocide of Indigenous lives by religious and governmental groups in our country, and the terrible impact it continues to have on Indigenous Peoples to this day.
When The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was created, its official mandate was optimistic and one that sought a way for healing for so many Residential School Survivors and their families. However, equally important was to ensure that truth was being told and to “promote awareness and public education of Canadians about the Indian Residential School system and its impact.”
The findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that resulted in 94 Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action are essential reading for all Canadians; it is imperative that, as citizens of this country, we all take the time to acknowledge the impact of this reality of Canada’s history prior to any reconciling. The truth that a system – positioned by people in power as “education” – resulted in the genocide of our country’s First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples is heartbreaking. Acknowledging this truth is vital so that we can move forward to reconciliation.
I wrote the following message to our students and staff last Sunday: “the lowering of our flag is one very small action towards the important work we must all do to continue to learn about our country’s history and its role in oppression of Indigenous Peoples and others as we work to ensure a more equitable and inclusive society.” To nurture good citizens, education must be one that values, facilitates, and expects a deep understanding of diverse perspectives.
ALL children’s lives depend on it.