The theme of my blog began as a way to capture those magical moments of being in education each day. The lack of posts over the last year doesn’t mean I am not having those moments each day in my role as teacher librarian in a busy K to 8 school. Those moments are plentiful and precious and well-documented on our school library learning commons Instagram and Twitter feeds. Over the evolution of my blog journey I did feel however, that I needed to be expressing an important political or pedagogical stance to make my message worth publishing. This self-created pressure is often mentioned by bloggers and is something I need to work out for myself.
It may also be that my work writing for other publications (listed below) in the school library community have given me the outlet for writing about education that the blog previously provided.
- Openshelf http://open-shelf.ca
- The Teaching Librarian http://www.accessola.org/web/ola/osla/teaching_librarian/ola/media/publications/teaching_librarian.aspx?hkey=bc5bfb0f-69ab-473f-992d-e10b1918da2b
- Canadian School Libraries http://www.canadianschoollibraries.ca/relevant-responsive/
But right now it seems important for me to revitalize my personal writing journey (even if no one reads it) to both express my current concerns for education in our province and give myself a tool for coping with my emotions around these concerns. That may sound self-indulgent and truthfully, it is.
The political tension in Ontario around education is intense and, for me, brings forth all the public judgement and personal anxieties around defending our profession that have so often come with labour disputes and education cuts.
The truth is the world of education doesn’t feel so magical right now.
The current government’s sweeping decision-making (often communicated to education staff late on a Friday afternoon) creates a sense of fear and uncertainty about funding, equity and inclusion, job security and so much more.
Links below can provide context for just some of the issues to which I am referring:
Ontario Is Going Back to the Old Sex Ed Curriculum Next Year https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2018/07/11/ontario-sex-ed-doug-ford_a_23479813/?utm_campaign=canada_dau
Ontario cancels curriculum rewrite that would boost Indigenous content https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-education-truth-and-reconciliation-commission-trc-1.4739297
Ontario government cuts $25M in funding for specialized school programs https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-education-programs-funding-cuts-1.494820
Removing caps on class sizes is a failure of both education and economics https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-removing-caps-on-class-sizes-is-a-failure-of-both-education-and/
In addition to the tension between frontline education staff and our government, I have the privilege of transitioning into my role as president of the Ontario School Library Association. This volunteer position, starting with my past year in the vice-president role, has opened my eyes to the state of school libraries across our province, the very serious funding formula failures of governments and school boards past and a plethora of new friends, professional mentors and inspiration for my own practice.
Like many sectors in the library world, we are also inheriting and addressing a years long tension between the variety of qualifications, job titles and job descriptions included in the daily operations of school libraries. This tension came to a head during a vote on a language change at the Ontario Library Association AGM this past week in Toronto. The focus was on the language of teacher librarian vs library worker and inevitably forced everyone to pick “sides”. Tension was high, pain was felt, tears were shed (by me for sure and I can only assume by others as well). Social media posts linger as obvious reminders of the harm this has caused to everyone. The details don’t need rehashed here but, the outcome is the striking of a committee/working group to look at the issues over the next 10 months and report back to the membership with suggestions and, ideally, a satisfactory solution. Being the incoming president means I will automatically be part of this important work.
Over the past 24 hours I have reflected on the entire state of this and the other issues schools we are facing in our province. And though nothing feels completely magical at the moment, the key for me is that we are all suffering the stress in one way or another. And we all have personal lives that bring their own ups and downs. When we are advocating for any belief or issue it can be very easy to dehumanize the person who appears to be our adversary. This makes it easier to make our own demands and close our hearts and minds to each other’s ideas. I don’t have answers to offer for the numerous challenges our education system is facing. I certainly have opinions and ideas but, not necessarily answers. I do intend to humanize and get to know anyone who wants to be part of the conversation and wholeheartedly ask that they do the same with me.
The magic of education isn’t found in these external tensions (although from a mental health perspective I know we are all feeling that stress).
THE CHILDREN WE SERVE ARE THE MAGIC.
Those moments that we all have each day are what we need to centre our advocacy and dialogue around. Education isn’t broken because our children aren’t broken. There is work to be done and there are underserved and marginalized children who we need to seek out and support.
So even though things don’t feel completely magical right now I AM STILL A BELIEVER…