Sunday, May 15, 2011

Education Week

I knew I'd be a hopelessly intermittent blogger :-(  
The only time I actually manage to get words on the page is when I should be writing something else (in this case a 6000 word literature review). It seems Blogging has become my preferred method of procrastination!

Tomorrow marks the beginning of Education Week. We'll be celebrating the occasion by opening our new BER building. The building isn't what we wanted. We have an excellent performing arts program that desperately needs a home and the 2 million dollars allocated for our building would have created a beautiful space for that. No longer would we have had to traipse our cast of 70 plus up the road to our local hall where we pay exorbitant fees to rent the space for our non profit making performances. No longer would we have had to squeeze our huge cast onto a tiny stage or let them freeze backstage in the unheated and unlined bluestone side room. If we were an independent or catholic school we would have been handed the 2 million to spend as we saw fit. Unfortunately, we are but a humble government organisation, not to be trusted with such autonomous suggestions!

However, that is a political argument that's now in the past and not worth revisiting. We have a beautiful building and it's going to very useful for many things. It's clean, it's shiny and it's full of state of the art gadgets including an awesome sound system that even I can manage.

It's a multi purpose building and when I was having one of my 'thinks' this morning, (as I do now that we are in the Seussical swing), it occurred to me that that's a perfect analogy for our school. We are, in many respects, a multi purpose school. We take all comers, we offer all subjects. We allow and encourage our kids to be the best they can be in a huge variety of areas.We teach about the real world in a school of 'real' people.All cross sections of society are represented in our school. Just as in life after school, our students learn to deal with difficult people and to monitor their own behaviour and develop sound relationships with people who come from different backgrounds to themselves. At our school, kids can be athletes, performers, academics, musicians, equestrians, leaders and world travelers. They can do all of these things at the same time and they don't have to leave their home town to do them (with the exception of the traveling part!). They're taught by people who know them well and who have a vested community interest in seeing them succeed. We teach our kids within their own community, for their community. In doing so, we build efficacy in the community itself.

This weekend I read the local regional paper and noticed a lot of very large, expensive advertisements from other district schools, public and private, all vying for the educational rights to the children of the area and beyond. Some of them were making some big claims and the colourful pictures painted a very rosy picture.We've been suffering lately from a spate of private school transfers and looking at those ads I can see how parents might be persuaded to believe that the grass is greener where the pastures look more lush.

We haven't put any ads in the paper or on TV. Quite frankly, I think there are hundreds of better uses in our school for the sort of money those advertisements must cost. In fact, if I were a fee paying parent at one of the schools who pay for the ads I'd be asking questions about how my money was being spent.I think the calibre of the students who graduate from our school is all the testament we need. I just wish more people would draw the logical conclusion that such success doesn't happen by chance. Amongst all the strengths we encourage at our school, maybe we should ease up on the modesty thing!

I think there's a blog post waiting to happen about local vs regional or private schooling, but this government school teacher has way too much on her plate at the moment to write it.
Suffice to say, I'm very proud of my school and all who learn in it. I couldn't wish for a better place for me to teach or my children to learn.

Happy Education Week everyone.

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