Today I had the honour of discussing my exhibit “Celebrate Canada” with our local Life Skills class. I wondered what I might learn from them?
I really enjoyed seeing through my children’s eyes, because of their unique innocent ways of looking at the world. I recall my daughter asking while stopped for a train, what the train was called, I replied “a freight train”. She looked at me quizzically and replied “Why, are people afraid of it?”. Sometimes it gives you a whole new way of looking at something and you can have your own awe-ha moment or chuckle. Those in a “Life Skills” class have a very diverse set of abilities and experiences, and are often in a never ending childhood, some more so than others. I was excited as to what new meaning of life I might witness, be a part of.
They behaved very well, their assistants were wonderful. Everyone taking the time to connect, or try to connect with the one they were with. Of my 150 paintings I learned of some of their favorites, Superman, the Stanley Cup, I didn’t catch the others but they all had their photo taken with their favorite image. Their teacher had made a sheet for them to find certain images, a bird, farm pictures, and other topics, which they pretty much all completed.
Their teacher now is a “retired” teacher, who has never really “retired” on call whenever the school division needs her it seems. Since her retirement when called back she has been in positions she would have never expected, I’m sure this was one of them. She feels she is out of her comfort zone/league but she is enjoying it and learning all the time, thankful for her dedicated Education Assistants, who know the students well.
Having now been a school trustee for 21 years, I am often pleasantly surprised at what can be taught to people whom others in the past may have deemed unteachable or limited. I never should be, for in truth learning is usually about desire or finding the right teacher or teaching method that is right for the student. Even us old dogs can be taught new tricks, and I certainly believe in life long learning.
But remember how excited you were when your child spoke their first words, or took their first steps? In a “Life Skills” class, some things we might take for granted can be HUGE learning and life altering skill for another. I remember a past School Trustee who has an autistic son, being told her son would never speak, never do this, never do that. He did manage to do some of those things they were told he never would, and those moments are amazing. Life skills like, learning whether it is safe to answer a door, asking yourself is the person on the other side of the door a friend or a stranger, if a stranger did you invite them, like a pizza delivery man? Can you communicate, what is needed so that you can. Every step that we can bring a person closer to be independent is allowing them so much more freedom. Freedom to choose, to become the best person they can be.
That’s truly a goal for all of us to have the freedom to choose, to be responsible for our choices and to become the best person we can be.
Listen and seek to understand, and if we are exposed to a new way of looking at things pause and learn from it. Most things in this world are not black and white, there are many shades of grey and ew need to embrace them.