Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Day Thirty-Eight: Tipi Teaching

The sun is reaching through the clouds, touching the earth, as though someone has broken into the Hallelujah Chorus. Moira and I are driving into this glory because Victoria has a date with destiny. Today she gets her point shoes. I sit on the bench in Dancers' Den and lean over to Tyler, Victoria's boyfriend. "Are you feeling it?" I ask. He remains silent; one of his superpowers, I've noticed. The store owner asks, "Is your longest toe rubbing? Are the edges almost spilling out? Do you want to use lambs' wool or ouch pouches?" She gives a few more instructions and voila, the satin, pink shoes fit. Victoria puts her funky, strap-leather, zip-up sandals on and I say, "Now those sandals, I'm feeling those." We gather at the till to pay. Victoria kisses me. "Thanks Mom."

I've been on facebook on and off today with alumni from my old high school, Western Christian College. What's that song, "High School Never Ends?" Oh the debate and passion, and it's not all frivolous. People are asking important questions. Offering thoughtful opinions. Victoria is in grade eleven at Western; I'm past president of the Alumni Association; I just stepped of the board of directors after eight years; my grandfather, Cecil Bailey, was a founder and wrote the school song; and my parents taught there in the seventies. I am a little invested. I posted things like, "What is your passion? What is your calling? For what are you willing to put your heart on the line?"

My walk to school this morning is typical, cool and clear -- lake, trees, sky, birds, leaves, grass, branches, gravel, rocks, river, roads, calling to me. When I get to school I see how my intern loves her students, our students. I feel like a working mother who has left her children in the care of the most professional and loving early childhood centre, ever. My mind is freed up, like a scholar, embracing the etymology of her calling which includes a leisure in her learning.

I have posted my treaty walk pictures when I notice -- through my classroom window -- some movement in our school's outdoor courtyard. I see a long pole, and then a young man with a long braid carrying the pole. Ah, they're setting up the tipi. I leave the classroom. Jade is teaching. I go to the courtyard. "Can I take some pictures?"

"You can take as many pictures as you like," says the adult-mentor in charge.

I snap away and return to my classroom. I don't check back until next hour, and the tipi is almost up. I go back for a few more pictures.

I remember a couple years ago, when we first raised a tipi in our inner-courtyard. We were introduced to "Tipi Teaching" and I had all my students make posters on eight and a half by eleven paper and we put these up in order around the classroom. Let's see if I can remember them all without looking them up. (We took them down last June.) My mind walks the walls of my classroom memory. Respect, Obedience, Humility, Happiness, Love, Faith, Kinship, Cleanliness, Thankfulness, and oh, oh, I can't remember what went by the phone, but then it was Strength, Good Child Rearing, Hope, Ultimate Protection, Balance. Now I look up what the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre says in Treaty Essential Learnings; I've missed Sharing. Sharing was by the phone. And balance is usually called "Control Flaps."

I remember when we used to play the Honour Song on Fridays that I would meditate on those words, and slowly walk them along the walls. I remember telling my students, "These words are worth living your life by." I think about my own daughters, the dancer, the pianist, the fiddler. What words are we instilling on their hearts? What words are we living by? I think about my alumni friends and hope and pray that they are finding words to live by. And now I'll have a tipi right outside my classroom to help me as winter walks closer and days grow short.

No comments:

Post a Comment