Friday, January 25, 2013

We Day Paper Chain

Our facilitator places a large envelope on our table and walks around the room full of teachers, placing envelopes on other tables. I am half listening to the instructions. This is a competition. Something about making paper chains, and the paper needs to be such-and-such wide and however long.

I'm at We Day training. Our school division is encouraging us to take students, and our high school is planning to take 35. On the Regina lineup press release, We Day promoters say, "Young people earn their way into the event by committing to take action on at least one local and one global issue through Free The Children’s year long engagement programs."

I don't want to play the simulation game. I never do. It's like games at a shower. Ugg. What I really want to do is have a side-bar with some of the women who were talking earlier about the power-issues around which students to select. I want to say, "That's just the point, if its seen as an opportunity with the kids who have the most power -- the best of the best -- to continue keeping their power, then it's I Day instead of We Day.

But now my group has started cutting strips of construction paper, and another group comes over to ask if they can see our ruler. We have two. I say, "Just take one."

Then my colleague Andre gets the tape out, and I say, "Let's put little strips along the table."

Our neighbour table asks if they can have some tape and Andre points at his stock-pile along the edge.

I get it. We're a have-table, and those around us seem to be have-nots. I'm a little interested now. Suckered in, I critique, but I wonder who else needs things we have. So I go to another table, see they have tape, and suggest they put the tape along the edge like we're doing. When one of the other tables asks if they can borrow tape, I tell them about that other table, because we are already supplying for three tables. I see some people ripping rather than cutting the strips, and I see our scissors are busy, so I don't offer our scissors. The scissors man is deep in conversation with someone who has come over to see him. I'm wondering if that person is a spy, or a distraction, sent to get him off track, but he's making the strips and visiting, so I leave him alone.

The facilitator announces we have about one minute, and then my buddy, Robin, from next door says, "Let's join chains." And pretty soon, we are adding chain upon chain and the clock is ticking down, and the chain just keeps growing.

I wish I was taking notes, but I don't even have a pen. The debriefing discussion is really good about all the ways this exercise could be used in the classroom.

The facilitator says this is the second time, since they've been in Saskatchewan, that the people changed the rules of competition and made a joint chain. Home of cooperatives, we call back. Home of medicare. Tommy Douglas turf. I'm so proud of Saskatchewan it almost hurts.

Our facilitator tells us that this chain activity was developed as part of their upcoming Aboriginal awareness campaign.

I'm looking around the room, and we are predominately white teachers. I know that I'm buying into one of my favorite myths, that Saskatchewan is all about taking care of each other and working together. I wonder how the conversation would change if the room were half First Nations or First Generation Immigrants.

Well, We Day, you've got me thinking. And hopefully, you'll help this next generation do more than just think, but act, together, for the kind of province, country, and world we want.


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