Last Thursday, my dad underwent open heart surgery at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary. They cracked his chest open (I still shudder at that thought) and replaced two of his heart values. He was in ICU until late Saturday afternoon and then he walked on his own to the “step down” unit. On Tuesday, he was discharged after he passed all of his tests including walking up and down flights of stairs and drove back (as a passenger) to Medicine Hat with my mom and our son, Jordan. I’m grateful for the surgeon, Dr. Kent and his team and most thankful for the care my father experienced at the hospital especially from the nurses in ICU. But what has this to do with education?
We have an expectation in the medical field that practice is always evolving. None of us would be very impressed if our doctors relied on procedures that were outdated or used old technology that increased patient suffering and/or recovery time. Given that dad was out of the hospital in six days, I’m pretty confident that Dr. Kent used the latest methods that were soundly grounded in research. So why do so many in the general public want an improvement in the education system yet are unwilling to accept any changes in practice because, “That’s not how I learned it when I went to school!” We accept it wholeheartedly in the medical profession but fight it tooth and nail in the education profession!
I’m proud of many things that occur in our school division but one that sticks out the most is our willingness as a division to continually improve. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it is in business practices or classroom pedagogy, maintenance or leadership, we’ve developed a culture of improvement. Our system believes in moving forward, trying new things in order to get better at whatever we do. Even though we have tightly aligned priorities, we’ve created a freedom within the context of each of our schools to move outside the box in our thinking and in our doing. I’m honoured to visit classrooms on a fairly regular basis (one of the best parts of the job) and watch innovative practices from teachers who are going beyond, trying new and learning forward. It is exciting to watch and necessary to counter the ill-informed public who want to improve education without changing anything! Please don’t ever stop that willingness to evolve!
The beginning of February is the start of the second half of the school year, semester 2 or quarter 3 depending on where you are in the division. It also marks the month that we begin the season of Lent, the 40 days (not including Sundays) that prepare us for the death and resurrection of Jesus. Christian faiths around the world know it as a time of prayer and repentance, fasting and abstinence. It is a journey where we reflect on how we might become the best version of ourselves and the person that God has called us to be.
It is not an easy journey and so as Matthew Kelly says, “Be gentle with yourself.” Strive to find time to pray, time to give and time to fast during this Lenten season. And may God bless you in your Lenten journey!