Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rediscovering Our Tribes

Sunday evenings always leave me with a sense of trepidation. The prospect of beginning another week of teaching my incredible special needs students is my motivation to wake in the morning, but it is also the same that leaves me weary and spent, hence the trepidation! I suppose this is what is meant by a labour of love!

One of the most exciting things this school year has been being trained in the Tribes programme ( ). This is a new approach to building school communities in being utilised many parts of Canada, and one that I embrace entirely. The central dynamic in having a positive learning environment is establishing relationships. The foundation of these relationships are based on trust and mutual respect. Such simple words, but something that may be a wee bit difficult to implement in a diverse room of adolescents.

Based on my interests in Eastern ideas, Yoga, love of Art and Music, etc., I have always been somewhat progressive in making my classroom a positive place, based on community and relationships. After completing Tribes, I realised that I was just doing naturally much of what this programme teaches, making assimilation easy. It is so exciting to see Educational trends evolve in this respect as it is a stark contrast to the way schools were run when I was a wee lad.

What troubles me (and a subject that I have written on in previous posts at length) is how such community building is lacking in our society in general. Teaching in the inner city, my students leave the safe walls of mutual respect and enter an neighbourhood rife with gangs, drugs and poverty. Going beyond the inner city, which perhaps possesses the strongest sense of community in most urban centres between the poor and the social group of smokers huddled in office doorways, we enter suburbs where communities have fallen away to small groups of Soccer Moms, etc. Like many things in school when I was young, you become so excited about a concept or idea, only to have it deflated by the 'real world'. It truly is a shame.

My daughter attends an Arts Core school, and I wish that we would see more of these programs made available. Artists tend to truly understand what community is, foster creativity and endeavor toward a world that is more stimulating than our present box-like structures and concrete towers. As a teacher, and as a parent deciding to send my daughter to such a program, I hope that we can make something positive for the future of our society.

In the end, relationships are the basis for life - it makes it all worthwhile. Communities make the craic even better when you are out and about, while supporting one when things are going to shite. I must admit that, while I love connecting with folks on-line, we really need to break free of our cubicles and commune with people (don't get me wrong, I'm delighted that you are here but would much prefer to speak with you face to face or over a pint or Americano). For example, I spent this afternoon jamming with my Celtic band, PLAID FLAG, and it was amazing - the company, the resonating of acoustic instruments, the energy in our voices and the general banter and sharing of humour. I just don't believe it to be possible to get that kind of quality interaction through a keyboard, and we sure as hell don't get it through the television screen. Yesterday, after going through a few music shops and bookstores, my 7 year old daughter, Enya, and I sat down at Starbucks and simply chattered at each other for an hour. This is what it's all about!

So, here's to those who take it upon themselves to build communities, make Art and endeavor to make this world better through fostering positive relationships!


  • At 3:23 p.m. , Blogger Fantastic Forrest said...

    Don't be hating on soccer moms. They're a valid tribe too. Especially if they're super fun, liberal, creative types like my gang. And we're not just soccer moms - we're theatre moms and orchestra moms and choir moms and... well, you get the idea. We even let some dads and people without children hang with us.

    Trust and mutual respect is a major challenge with kids. There's so much meanness and cliquishness. I applaud your efforts with the Tribes programme to make a difference.

  • At 6:26 p.m. , Blogger Minister of the Masochistic Truth said...

    Yes, I suppose I was being a bit harsh on the Soccer Moms... I think it's the concept of them that I was referring to more than the actual social groups - you know, that hyper scheduled insanity with mini-vans and whatnot....

    Mutual respect is crucial, and that's where the relationship building comes in. Children need to feel valued and accepted. Tribes seems really good at establishing this...


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