Inspiring Teacher Boosts Awareness with Tech

 

A Mother’s Reflections on a Memorable School Project

Justin Trudeau spoke to a group of Indigenous students in Saskatchewan yesterday. That made the news, especially after high school student Tahris Bear asked a hard question of the Prime Minister about the Third World living conditions in many Canadian First Nations communities.

What didn’t make the news was that the PM also took time out of his day to speak to some younger students in British Columbia. The meeting took place by video conference, and was a highlight of the school year for grade 6 and 7 students at Yaqan Nukiy School, the band-run independent school Lower Kootenay Band. The school, located in the Traditional Territory of the Ktunaxa Nation, has a population of roughly 40 students – one of whom is my youngest daughter.

 

Inspiring Teacher Boosts Awareness with Tech by Kyla Matton Osborne | #videoconferencing #Canada #youth

 

Culmination of an Ongoing Project

Students in Devan Coward’s grade 6/7 class have been working on their civic responsibility and political awareness all year. “Mr C” invited candidates for the fall federal election to a classroom debate, the class participated in Student Vote, and they later followed up with a mock parliament.

Mr C has also been running a year-long classroom economy. Students are required to pay a “rent” for the use of their desks, and so each student has applied for and been chosen to do a specific job in the class. The “salary” earned through this work allows the students to pay rent and to purchase fun extras. This exercise teaches students the value of hard work, and encourages them to budget so they will meet their expenses. Great idea!

 

Inspiring Teacher Boosts Awareness with Tech by Kyla Matton Osborne | #videoconferencing #Canada #youth
Using classroom tech to connect with the Prime Minister (Image by geralt/Pixabay/CC0 1.0)

 

The class continued their foray into the world of politics by holding a classroom video conference with BC Education Minister Mike Bernier. Students used this meeting as an opportunity to practise their interview skills.

Each time such an event is set up, Mr C takes the time to solicit student questions. The class discusses the topics, researches the background, and works on framing just the right question. All of this, leading up to the interview with the Prime Minister himself.

 

Students have been guided on how to structure ‘deep questions,’ preceded by a statement of fact, informed by evidence, and which demand a more detailed response on the part of the PM.

~ Taken from a letter sent home by Mr C prior to the interview with Prime Minister Trudeau

 

Polygamy and “Potty” Talk

The students planned to ask Prime Minister Trudeau a variety of different questions. Topics included the economy, sustainable farming practices, funding for Indigenous communities, the role of Canada’s military, and more. Students also had personal questions for Trudeau, about how he became interested in politics and whether his teaching experience has helped him in his role as a political leader.

As often happens, there were more questions planned than the PM actually had time for. But there were two questions that yielded interesting answers. The first was particularly interesting because of the polygamous FLDS community located in our valley. Simply put, this youngster just wanted to know why polygamy is illegal in Canada. I was quite interested to hear that Prime Minister Trudeau say that it probably shouldn’t be, an answer that hearkens back to his father’s philosophy that the government doesn’t belong in the bedrooms of the nation.

 

Trudeau discusses polygamy, transgender rights with students | by Kyla Matton Osborne (Ruby3881) | This Is My Canada | #technology #students #cdnpoli
Legislation protecting transgender rights, sometimes called Canada’s “bathroom” law, was one of the topics discussed with Prime Minister Trudeau (Image: Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay/CC0 1.0 )

 

The other question relates to this whole “bathroom” controversy our American neighbours are dealing with, and it was asked by my Katydid. She touched on Bill C-279, a bill that was designed to include charter protections on the basis of gender identity. My daughter asked whether the PM supported legislation to protect transgender individuals, and he said he does.

In fact, the entire Liberal Party voted unanimously in favour of legal protections based on gender identity – which is separate from both gender and sexual orientation, traits already mentioned in the anti-discrimination clauses of Canada’s Charter of Rights and related laws. The only thing the kids forgot to ask is what the Liberals now intend to do about the two bills that were stalled before the election last fall, and that now sit in limbo!

 

It takes an amazing teacher to get kids interested in politics and to organize such a big project. Mr C deserves much praise for the hard work he does. And teacher turned political leader Justin Trudeau should be thanked for making this happen.

How many young people get to say they have interviewed their country’s Prime Minister? Now how many of them come from a tiny school in a rural area of the country? For these kids, a video conference with Justin Trudeau is not just a highlight of the year but something they will remember for a lifetime.

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10 thoughts on “Inspiring Teacher Boosts Awareness with Tech

  1. I found it amazing how a child that age could know about polygamy, unless it’s being actively taught at home. What’s going on at home is a question to ask with a little humor.

    1. Actually, there’s no humour involved at all. We live close to Bountiful, and have a significant number of children from the community in our local schools. These children come from families whose practice of plural marriage is central to their religion. Unfortunately, it’s also illegal.

      Their community has been fighting to have the Canadian government to change the bigamy laws, which discriminate against their community and several others. Some of their community leaders are currently under indictment for practising bigamy, which is sad because these people are loving spouses and parents who just want to live peacefully according to their beliefs. The children in the community are very aware of the fact that the law targets their religion for discrimination, and I’m sure most would just like to see the law changed so they can stop living in fear.

  2. How fortunate your daughter was to get this opportunity. It’s great to see technology being used so creatively in schools.

    1. I quite often read disparaging commentaries on cell phones and other devices in school, but for our kids technology has been a boon in the classroom. The Katydid’s class work every day on their Chromebooks. They do their research online, which is great because there is no school library and the academic offerings at the public library are rather limited. They also do much of their writing online, and send their assignments to the teacher via one of the Google services.

      Our older girls use tech to compensate for disabilities, and our son uses and iPad to communicate and keep a visual schedule.

      In every case, technology has been a way to support and further their education – not a distraction or a hindrance.

  3. Hi Olivia. Thanks for posting this. It is great to know what is being done in Canada especially those that the media does not highlight.

    1. It’s Kyla, actually. (Or you can call me Ruby!)

      You’re quite welcome. And I want to thank you for visiting and dropping me a line. It’s good to know others appreciate what’s going on here in Canada :)

  4. I was absolutely enthralled while reading your post. How wonderful for those students that they have a teacher who works so hard to give them such great experiences and that they have the technology to bring the world into their classroom. And bravo to your daughter for posing such a sensitive question. Some of the answers I hear from our politicians down here in the US are the most ridiculous drivel. To think, with all the challenges we face in this world, our nation is more concerned about who is going in the bathroom than just about anything else. I am embarrassed for my country that this is even an issue.

    1. To be honest, a lot of us are embarrassed for y’all too! It is sad that American politics seems to be so hung up on petty details such as what church a candidate belongs to or what his wife wears, or indeed what toilet a person uses.

  5. Wow that is amazing!! I would of been thrilled to talk with the leader of my country or someone of high importance while in school.

    1. I know, eh? As I said to my girlfriend earlier today, I wish my teachers had been half as cool as Mr C :)

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