Friday, June 27, 2014

Teaching and Learning

It is three years since I retired from my long-time job as a teacher-librarian. Tuesday night, I facilitated my first adult book club. Monsieur, who also has a library background, and I gathered an assortment of neighbours to our Fireside Room to decide on our first reading selection.

I had never met many of the 12 participants who probably ranged from 62 to 85 years of age. We have chosen to read  The Book of Secrets by M.G. Vassanji, a Canadian novel set in East Africa. Our public library has over 100 sets of books that are available to book clubs. Hopefully, this experiment will be an opportunity for the exchange of ideas between residents of our housing community.

I have been providing opportunities for French conversation for a lady from my church. She has an extensive French vocabulary but needs some correction and help with pronunciation. We meet at the Senior Centre and I provide topics for discussion and a little grammar practice. I really enjoy working with such an enthusiastic student.

Earlier this week, La Duchesse posted a blog Imagining Retirement  where she discussed how the reality of retirement often differed greatly from our previously-held expectations. Family, caregiving responsibilities, relationships and finances continue to change although we are no longer fully employed.

Last night, I attended the retirement of a fellow teacher for whom I have a great deal of respect and admiration. A woman of more than 65 years of age, who started teaching after raising 4 children of her own and fostering other children, who baked cupcakes for every Grade 7 class member's birthday, who
supports a adult child with mental health issues and nursed a dying ex-husband while working fulltime.
I didn't realize until last night what an important role a "work family" plays.

My former colleagues have been walking a picket line for two weeks. Today, they will be walking together as a staff in the rain. My retiree friend told a story of an exceptional student who recently approached  her with a gift. A twelve year old boy offered his saved allowance because he felt "that it was the least that he could do to help her."  Apparently, the kindness, humour and compassion that this teacher had shown her students had taught this boy about how to consider the plight of others and how to offer help. There is no more important lesson.

This is what public education is about and I support it with all of my heart.


4 comments:

  1. Bravo! I support education alongside you Madame, I had 25 years in secondary teaching. I envy the lady you have French conversation with, I'd love to brush up my high school French but there is no facility within reasonable travelling distance.

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    1. We really are having fun together and my "student" is gaining confidence. Public education is one of the foundations of a democratic society.

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  2. How reassuring to hear about your friend and the boy. I'd like to think -- I hope! -- that more of that sort of influence goes on than we hear.

    Good luck with your book club. I love mine. Even though we often veer off the topic of the book, the discussions always seem grounded in thought and consideration, so they are worthwhile. Not to mention, I really value the friendship of the other members.

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    1. It is so rewarding to know that students have been influenced by a teacher's kindness. I am hoping that our little group will bond and enjoy reading together.

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