My Neighbour: Including the Misfit?

Posted: April 29, 2018 by Ty in Musings, My Neighbour, Spirituality
Tags: , , , ,

A reader asked me to consider the question of including/welcoming the misfit. It should’ve been an easy question because that seems the whole underlying principle of “My Neighbour”. Yet we do need to pause and ask, what is meant by the term misfit?

What is a misfit?
Oxford dictionary defines misfit as:
NOUN
• 1A person whose behaviour or attitude sets them apart from others in an uncomfortably conspicuous way.
‘a motley collection of social misfits’
Synonyms: nonconformist, oddball, maverick, individualist, square peg in a round hole.

Canada in and of itself has been built as a collective of nations. A multiplicity of cultures, religions, ideologies and peoples from around the world, making their community in its inherent diversity one mosaic of many. Our binding principles are the Constitution Act 1982 (the re-patriated British North America Act 1867), the Charter of Rights and Freedoms 1982. Upheld by the Constitutional promise of Peace, Order and Good Governance with the final word resting with the Supreme Court of Canada. All this is precipitated on the ideal of personal freedoms and collective rights. One of the things that was foreseen by our founding fathers, was the idea of a global village, hence the provision of freedom of movement (i.e. provinces are not the land they are, but the citizens) which allows free movement for the citizenry. One of the challenges is how powers were broken up between levels of governance. In that which the Federal (or then Dominion) government did not want to deal with, was granted to the provinces/territories. Hence the patchwork of public education across our nation.
In other words, Canada is a collection of misfits. We as a collective have forgotten this in our rush to rugged individualism, and commodification of the human being. To answer the question posed will take a few posts, this one is to look at a corporate/communal response that may aid in belonging and inclusion. I look to the idea of public schools. Alberta’s system is a mess. I can already here those who use the Separate (Catholic) and private systems gearing up their arguments. Trying to point to money savings or charter/speciality schools. Or my personal favourite threat from a private school user parent—I will send my kids to your public school. Okay, I think we can handle it.
See public schools were designed constitutionally to allow for a benchmark. A starting point for every citizen to be guaranteed a certain level of education needed to pursue a good life. Yes we have capped that off in Canada to be K-12 (yes I realize with the decline in public schools, technical and university degrees have become more the norm that should be funded up to). What I am proposing is a system that is fiscally responsible, increases the critical thinking, global citizenry, and good citizenry of the students. It also alleviates the idea of misfit, for it is a system that allows a student to grow/explore who they are.
By collapsing all funding into one streamlined system of schools that I would dub “Public Generalist” would set a standard. Yes academic achievement, social and emotional IQ would also be part of achievement benchmarks. This would include healthy school-life balance. It would look at core curriculums including the humanities and STEM, but also the holistic person with shop classes, home economics, health, world religions, world views, Canadian History, Indigenous studies, Language classes (we are officially bilingual, but I would say once entering junior high perhaps an expansion into an indigenous language option, and in high school a few others); also the fine arts (choir, band, art, creative writing, drama). These should be courses available, or through community partnerships brought into schools through elders, and student practicums from the disciplines running lunch hour or after school clubs; physical education (structured with proper teachers) needs to be apart of it as well. All these things feed into a critical thinking person, and also acknowledge TRC points I believe because it looks a the holistic person. It allows room for exploration, growth, understanding and discovery of who you are on this journey. I would also encourage clubs can be open to other points of view, if the students want it, the volunteer can pass the screening it should be allowed. We had parallel religious clubs running in my schools (believe a Sikh, Christian and Muslim); model parliament which allowed for creation of political parties. There was science Olympics and fairs; entrepreneurship programs. Plus the sports teams.
None of this was determined by our socio-economics. This was apart of public education.
I would build into the front-end a before and after school program to make life more affordable for families, which can be done in partnership with local groups (Boys & Girls Clubs, Youth drop ins; religious communities, 4-H, other service clubs looking for new mission/visions). The public school can easily become the community hub for older and newer communities. When there is a decrease in enrollment due to aging demographics why can’t some space be created that is not in use for seniors’ clubs? The list can go on.
What happens when this begins to happen the focus of public education becomes the focus of functional, healthy citizenry celebrating the unity in our beautiful diversity? Misfit no longer exists, they are simply part of the community.
That is a global solution, one that would take the drive of policy, government, but also of the adults realizing what has been lost in our education and community systems. One that instead of using the grieving of loss/change to drive further entrenchment, segregation and means survival tests goes… screw that noise…we built forward on what was built by previous generations why are we allowing our children/grand children to suffer, lets create something that builds on the legacy left us, instead of constantly destroying based on the almighty dollar.
But is there willingness to see each other as persons of value?

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