It all began with a book... From the heart of Africa to the hearts of General Vanier and Windsor Schools.
Elder Jules teaching the wisdom of the seven natural healing ways.
Students and teachers from Windsor and General Vanier Schools have just completed a month long whole school inquiry project about wisdom. Teacher Librarian Barb Shearer presented the book From the Heart of Africa: A book of wisdom by Eric Walters as a potential inquiry foundational text and a commitment to our inquiry was born.
A team of teachers (Charlene Sacher, Kris Tait, Tamara Krahn and Shauna Tait) along with principals Allie Hassin and Ken Bartel invited Corey Kapilik to help us connect to the local wisdom of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Dakota and Métis peoples.
A circle of learning was established in the Library Learning Commons of Windsor and General Vanier Schools. The beautiful seven teachings rugs grounded the space for the wisdom shared by Elder Jules, Andrea Leach, Darlene Tomsic and Duncan Mercredi.
The teachings of the wisdom of the drum.
We asked the big question: How does wisdom resonate among peoples and cultures? Each classroom selected one of the African wisdom statements from our foundational text. They explored their statement and participated in the wisdom teachings of the elders all the while knowing that they would share their deeper understandings at a celebratory assembly at the end of the month. And share they did!
"It takes a village to raise a child," became "It takes a classroom to raise a Milo." Milo is Ms. Wakeman's "Roots of Empathy" baby. This group of grade 3/4 students created a shadow puppet play set to music for Milo; representing the words of wisdom they need to teach Milo over his lifetime.
"Wisdom is like the baobab tree: no one person can embrace it" (Ewe People, West Africa) was explored by Ms. McKay's grade 1/2 class. They decided to learn about the baobab tree and find out why it was so important to the wisdom knowledge of the Ewe people.
There were many, many more opportunities and creations from all of the classes in both schools. Things wrapped up with awesome assemblies at each school. In Principal Hassin's words, "In our exploration of wisdom, it struck me as special that we were able to incorporate so many voices into our learning. It reflects in a way the acceptance, promotion and value we place on listening to ideas other than our own. This humility, embodied by the collective presentations, will be something that I will remember."
As a teacher-librarian – "My heart was full, for all of the spoken and unspoken learning!" (Barb Shearer, Itinerant Teacher-Librarian).