Building a Community of Belonging
I love history. I have a real keen interest in how everyday people lived their lives in the past. One aspect of those lives is schooling and I find the concept of the one room schoolhouse intriguing. The idea of a room full of multiage children learning together has its benefits. It was an opportunity to build community and allowed older students to teach younger students; therefore, solidifying the concepts in the older students’ minds. The best way to learn is to teach. I also realize that my thoughts are very likely tainted with a romantic view of the past. The reality, I am certain, was not as rosy. However, the swing to the opposite side is also not healthy. In modern schools, we tend to encourage same age interactions exclusively. Each grade level becomes a separate culture inside of a school. One of our learning goals is to learn to belong to and live in community, creating a single culture that celebrates diversity of gifts and talents as highlighted in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27.
I saw a beautiful example of community building earlier this week that highlights what we are endeavouring to achieve. I walked into the Kindergarten room to find a section of the Grade 7/8 band working with Mr. Adams at the back of the room. They were working on a piece of music that they are hoping to perform later this spring. Meanwhile, Mrs. Culp was working with a group of JK/SK students at the front of the room. The JK/SK students were preparing for their celebration of learning. They are going to make and perform with their own musical instruments. As the Grade 7/8 students played, the JK/SK students were focusing on what they heard and saw to integrate that knowledge into their work. Two teachers from opposite ends of the building modeling collaboration and team-work. Students working on grade level and age appropriate skills and knowledge, but engaged in learning together. This is community. This is beautiful work.