Anti-Bullying Day, Earth Day, Aboriginal Day,…
These, and many others, are important days to help raise awareness around wrong-doings that occur in our schools and society. What we MUST be aware of is that just because we participate in these one day events does NOT mean that we have committed to change. Change needs to happen each and every day in our schools and throughout our communities.
If we continue to need these days year after year, are we making enough progress? Will there be a time when these days are NOT needed? Change is slow but should we not have the expectation that the way we treat each other improves more rapidly?
I DO see the purpose of the one day events, school wide speakers, honouring ceremonies, etc but we need to be careful if we think that just because we have discussions around these issues on this day, we are going to create the needed change. The most powerful actions are those that occur in the days/years following these events.
If the only thing we do to end bullying is wear a Pink Shirt on Anti-Bullying day, our society is in trouble. We need to model respectful behaviour every day and encourage change by continually helping both the victims, bystanders and the bullies understand the impact of their behaviours.
Two years ago, our grade 2’s told us that “Earth Day is every day” and they modeled this with their class compost and recycling (and reduction) program as well as their awareness of the benefits of growing their own food. As a school, we have done “litterless lunch days” but then continued on with our same (often wasteful, consuming) behaviours following these days. Yes, the day did get people talking but I am not sure that it created the needed change.
Today, an admin colleague and I stated (paraphrased) “If we think we embrace First Nation Culture just because we participate in Aboriginal Day each year, we are doing our students a disservice… culture of ALL our students needs to be embedded in our lessons every day.” Many of us participate in surface level activities that demonstrate equity and respect but are we having the deeper, needed dialogue around the impact of our Western values on other cultures? Are we creating change every day so that ALL our students have a more equitable opportunity for success, regardless of race or culture?
Many schools are hosting Identity Day fairs that provide students with an opportunity to showcase who they are. In schools, do we continually honour and provide students with opportunities to develop and showcase their passions or do we merely award select students at the end of the year? Are our students more aware of their strengths and what they can do or their deficits and what they cannot?
We need to continue t0 honour and celebrate who we are and where we come from throughout the year. There are awareness and celebratory days in which we should be participating but if we look to a one day event to create the needed major change and solve problems that occur every day, we need to ask ourselves… what are we doing to create this change every other day of the year?
Anybody can work to create change by doing something for a single day… but this is never enough. We must ‘be the change’ EVERY day.