On February 17th I made my way to the McLean performance space at York University. I made sure to leave extra time to find parking as I knew that if I did not arrive on time, I would miss out on an inspiring evening of drama, education and theatre. I knew this evening would be a powerful one, for I was one of the fortunate educators to have been taught by Kathleen Gould Lundy, and to have experienced the magic that happens in one of her classes. The performance was titled “All I’s on Education: Imagination, Integration, and Innovation.” The performance was the culmination of extensive research and active exploration of inquiry based learning and cross curricular classroom projects. Ten schools from across Ontario were selected to participate in this research. The ten selected schools were as diverse as the experiences that emerged from these innovative inquiry projects. The schools included both French and English, Metis, First Nations, Public, Catholic, elementary schools and secondary. The schools were in both urban areas as well as more remote, rural ones.
The audience was full and a buzz of excitement filled the air. Centre stage, rows of empty seats were waiting to be filled by the teachers involved in the research project. Stage right, a teacher’s desk, Canadian flag and globe. Stage left, a baby grand and other accompanying instruments that would soon seat the talented artists providing the soundtrack to the evening’s performance. The musicians added depth and beauty to the powerful narratives told by the teachers. On the cello was York University’s Naomi Norquay, one of the project’s investigators. The hauntingly beautiful sounds emerging from her cello had me transfixed from the moment the first lighting cue signalled to the audience that the show was to begin.
The show was beginning and approximately forty teachers emerged and filled the waiting seats. Downstage center, performers from Lundy’s drama education class took position. The performance students enacted the stories of the educators who occupied the seats behind them. At times, the teachers came and told their own stories as well. Whether a teacher was telling their own story, or whether it was told by one of the drama education performers, one was always aware of the duplicity in this story telling. At times this duplicity was evident because the teacher was standing alongside the performer recounting their journey, and at times it was simply seen in a quiet smile of familiarity and pride from the teacher’s seat. Either way, one was always aware of the origin of the experience. The performance students and teachers did such an incredible job of recreating these stories of inquiry, imagination, integration and innovation. They recounted their experiences through monologues, scenes, tableau, and movement. The scenes, music, and monologues flowed seamlessly.
The stories told that evening, were ones about relationships. Relationships between the arts, social studies, science and math. Relationships between inquiry and student engagement. Relationships between teachers and their communities. Relationships between teachers and parents. And of course, relationships between teachers and their students. This evening inspired me to keep pushing myself in my own teaching practice and to continue to seek ways in which to be innovative and engage all of my learners. The heartfelt stories shared in this remarkable performance also reminded me that as the old saying goes, “It takes a village.” We must get our communities involved in creating exciting worthwhile learning for our young people. And so, I left the McLean performance studio that evening with the same feeling I had back in my teacher education days leaving Kathleen Gould Lundy’s class: inspired and ready to make a difference.
For more information, check out the digital gallery: http://ckprototype.com/vi3p/#gallery