See me and Julio down at the... PAC meeting

My first visit to a PAC meeting might be remembered by some for my proposal to call teachers by name… First name that is. I certainly remember the reaction of some to my proposal: vehement rejection.
When I was considering raising the issue it seemed to me almost like a non issue that maybe I shouldn't bother with. My vision of it was that people would just nod and say sure, why not. After all, we are in the 21st century.
It turns out I don’t know people that well. Do I know what PAC is? Is it Council or Committee... ? Well, it’s Council: “All parents/guardians of children in a school are members of the Parent Advisory Council” (from the School Board’s Handbook).
So here I am, almost three years as a parent of a child in school; still learning what this whole education system is all about; still trying to remember people’s names when I recognize their face. Anat and I try to alternate in attending PAC meetings so that the burden (and sometimes boredom) is shared.
Yes, you don’t have to be there to be a member. Before we know it, our daughter is eighteen and…, yeah, what century are we still in?


How are we doing, you may ask.

Fine tuning a message is like mixing colors to reach the perfect hue. The industry would always market the latest offering as the best ever. Then next year a new variant will show up, again, as the ultimate solution.
Strength Based Learning (SBL) is a fine title for an educational concept.
For me, an underlying tension exists between our intentions and the resulting messages we try to promote. My interaction with my daughter involves many expressions of behavior. Some of them are more pleasant than others. As she acquires the communication tools through exposure and practice, our interaction becomes more complex, challenging and rewarding. What is it in what we do that helps her in life and what might it be that undermines her progress? These questions are hard pressed to provide answers when dealing with other adults.
Many times I brought home exams marked at 97 points out of 100. My grandmother used to ask me “Why not a hundred?” She always did it with a smile that showed her content. But the message stayed: anything but perfect is not good enough. This search for balance between aspirations and reality is a life long endeavour. Everyone has a version of it that is made of infinite bits of beliefs and behaviours that make any of us what we are. Social interaction is a journey full of collaborations and confrontations. Throughout life I absorb ideas as well as reject others. In raising my kid I hope to expose her to experiences that lead her to socially healthy independence.
What is the state of social health in our world, our city, our neighbourhood? My daughter is an avid reader, so it seams we’ve done well so far. In the context of SBL we are commended as well as encouraged to go for more. But more might not necessarily mean more of the same. In the meeting with Faye Brownlie I found myself saying that our kids don’t need us that much. When adults try to discuss methods of promoting success of their kids I tend to cringe a bit. The intentions are all positive and worthy.
Children grow into their family and almost simultaneously out of it. We have a varying degree of control over their lives. My hope is to see my daughter confidently take control over her own life. She might share her perception of our efforts in the future. At the moment her ability and interest in doing so are limited.
Until we get her feedback if at all, we are busy mixing the colors in search of the perfect hue.


Strength Based Learning

In January this year Norquay School Principal Tricia Rooney shared with parents at the PAC meeting the concept of Strength Based Learning. On Tuesday, March 12, Faye Brownlie, a literacy and learning expert shared insights with a few parents and teachers at the school library. Teachers and Staff of Norquay Elementary in Vancouver have been introduced to Faye and the principles of Strength Based Learning by Tricia some time before. Faye Brownlie’s talk provided an intriguing window of thought into issues relating to the education of our children.

The focus of Strength Based Learning is in promoting the natural ability of anyone to succeed. For better or lesser reasons, our interest in promoting our kids’ success is always challenged. In society we then face a reality that not all of us are performing to the extent of our ability.
A child’s entry into adult world hinges on their ability to communicate in support of the society we all rely on. Play, learning and practice expose us as kids to a process that eventually becomes who and how strong we are. As adults we continue to play, learn and practice. As parents we hope to pass the better parts of our strength to our children.

Reading and writing are the core tools that enable us to connect in society. How to promote literacy in the early stages of life is where Strength Based Learning has a lot of insights to offer. Faye’s work around BC and elsewhere is an ongoing effort of keeping us connected to the simple truth that any of us is successful.
Norquay PAC shared the costs of inviting Faye to talk on this occasion. In appreciation to this and Tricia’s enthusiasm as an educator, I will continue to contemplate more at the topic and post new thoughts as they surface.