Thursday, September 01, 2016

OFF TO SCHOOL - Eleanor Shepherd

This week my almost-five-year-old granddaughter started school.  As I looked at the photo my daughter sent me from her telephone, my mind went back to the vague memory of my first day at school.  I was five and a half. 
The technological changes in the intervening years have altered our way of living.  Yet in other ways, educational objectives remain constant.  Ironically, even the buildings have a familiar look.  I expect that the school Sanna will attend was constructed at the time when my generation hit school age.  We were part of the post-war baby boom and schools were springing up all over the place.   One of the funny stories in the family lore is taking my husband to see the ‘‘new school’’ that was opened the year that I was in kindergarten.  We had been married more than ten years when I took him to see it, and by that time the school had been open nearly twenty-five years, so instead of the brand new building I remembered, it was a well-worn building that bore little resemblance to the eagerly anticipated ‘‘new school’’ we had moved into as the first class, delighting in the big round kindergarten room with windows letting in the light from every angle.  
                  The school Sanna is attending has seen many students pass through its doors as well.  Yet there are also significant changes.  This little girl will be attending a French school, as she is already completely fluent in English and Swedish and the only language lacking to make life in her community completely comfortable is French.  Her preschool was bilingual, so she has been exposed to French, but has not had the opportunity to use it much with peers.  This school will provide that.
                  In the small Canadian town where I started school, this was not an option.  My only choice was English language education.  Even French immersion was unheard of in those days.  I had to wait until I was forty to become bilingual. 
                  However, language is probably not the most important thing that Sanna will learn at school.   She will also learn how to function in social settings and I believe this is one of the great benefits of public education.  We learn how to be at ease with one another and make room for one another, as we gain the skills of communication and thinking clearly.  As education increases our ability to observe and assess our environment, we can then discover consequences of decisions and learn to make choices.  All of this occurs in the context of the conflicting and corresponding choices of others, who make up the world around us. 

                  This kind of education equips us to discover the unique contribution that we are able to make to our world as we discern our strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, our God given abilities and the gifts and talents we can share with others. We also learn how our unique contributions can mesh and clash with those of other people and how to work out the complications of the resulting relationships.  How fortunate we are to have such opportunities!  What exciting possibilities lie ahead for my granddaughter!   My dream is that one day the gift of this kind of education would be available for every child around the globe.  What a different world this could be! 
Word Guild Award
Word Guild Award

Eleanor Shepherd, a Salvation Army officer has a repertoire of over 90 articles published in several countries. A speaker and workshop leader at conferences, in Canada, the USA, France, Belgium, Switzerland, South Africa, Australia, Haiti and Jamaica, her story appeared in Hot Apple Cider. Her book More Questions than Answers, explains her style of evangelism by listening.      

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Thanks for this winsome, harking back post, Eleanor - it prompted early school reminiscing for me.
Fluent in Swedish and English, and only five, yet Sanna's going for more already - Wow! Becoming fluent in French will no doubt open up new horizons and opportunities along life's way for her.
I agree, Eleanor, that quality public education is important. (This fall, our number three son commences his twentieth year of public school teaching.) ~~+~~

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