Last Wednesday, one of my students asked, “What do you do at teachers’ convention?” I explained that convention is our turn to learn, giving a few specific examples. He looked at me intently and said, “Don’t you know those things already?”
On Friday morning, Roberta Bondar answered his question perfectly… we must always allow room to relearn, reassess, reevaluate, shift or change our viewpoint. Our understanding of the world is limited to today’s understanding. We do not know who we will be or what we might discover tomorrow.
So, what did I learn at convention this year? I learned to appreciate much in my life: freedom of speech, access to food any time I please, the view of the sky, the compassion of those around me. I learned to appreciate the predictability of my days and the enormity of my freedom. I learned the power of an individual with a heart open to forgiveness. I learned that though the problems in our world are daunting, education is often the answer.
From whom did I learn this? Amanda Lindhout spoke about the 460 days she was held captive in Somalia. She, and others during convention, reinforced the power of education. It is only in its absence, that we come to realize its power. Lindhout’s Somali captors were boys really, most of them orphaned, all of them with violent, famished pasts: education no more than a dream. As she came to know her young captors over many months, she realized that these boys were much the same as boys their age in Canada… yet without opportunity.
Had these children been educated, perhaps they would not have sought belonging in the violent endeavours of this group. Had these children been educated, perhaps they would have seen how they could have a positive impact in the world. Had these children been educated, perhaps they would seek ways to improve the living conditions of their country. Had these children been educated, perhaps they would live in hope rather than day to day desperation.
Is there value in convention then? Did I shift or reevaluate my perspective? Will I return to school a better educator, a better leader?
I will return with a renewed sense of purpose and a newfound gratitude for this place we call school.
There is always value in learning.