There’s a great episode of the Simpsons…sorry, let me start again: ONE of the great episodes of the Simpsons has Lisa talking to Homer:
Lisa: Dad, do you know that the Chinese have the same word for “crisis” as they do for “opportunity?”
Homer: Yes! Cris-o-tunity!
Well, students are finding themselves in the middle of a crisis/opportunity this school year in Ontario. With the cancellation or the eminent cancellation of extra-curricular activities, students are faced with a decision: whether to lament their fate and wallow in their misery, or whether they should develop their own extra-curricular without teacher involvement.
The students at my school have decided to go it alone. They have begun to organise their own activities and organizations. It’s a little messier, there’s been some mistakes, and there’s been some disagreements; however, they have still succeeded brilliantly. They have made organic, democratic, and engaging opportunities for themselves and each other.
Within days of the full realisation that clubs and teams are at least on hold, a couple of students organised a soccer league to operate at recess when there is already supervision. They have organised the equipment, teams, a tournament structure, they have refs, and it seems to be going quite well. It takes a little more time for them to organise at the start of each game as they are less use to submitting authority to each other, but once the game starts, it has been flawless.
Another group tried to re-create the cross country team. Unfortunately, school insurance issues and a desire to hold before and after school practises seems to have stalled this initiative. When you’re learning, you won’t always be successful…unless learning is the goal of course.
The final student organization so far is the student council. The grade eights came together and decided on the form of the council and hosted their own elections. Currently, they are organizing the Halloween dance. Their arguments were messy but so very real and democratic…its been very interesting to watch…I wonder if, should the labour dispute be resolved and extra-curricular are restored by teachers, whether this group will want a teacher at that point.
They have become leaders…not just filling in the spaces that teachers created for them, but they have made the spaces themselves this time. They have taken it all on, not just the little bits we typically leave them.
I wish I could say I was proud of them; however, I have had nothing to do with it and this seems patronizing to me….I can say that I am very impressed.