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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - November 28, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta y, Nov.mb.r 21, 1972 THE LETHBRIDOE HERALD 5 Ralph Himsl Hutterites are people English, Canadian schools compared Ey Eva Brewsler Ralph Ilimsl is superinten- dent designate, of the Lcth- bridge Catholic Separate School District. He will as- sume his new duties on Jan- uary 1, 1973. To gain a dearer view of the more familiar Canadian school setting, the author visited schools in England during Oc- tober, 1972. A tour arranged by the British Council provided a contact with many people en- gaged in the educational enter- prise in England: teachers, researchers and curriculum de- velopers, administrators, uni- versity people, students, head masters, their deputies and school building planners. Good things in English schools derive from the teach- er's confidence in professional status. Unlike many Canadian teachers, English teachers waste no time or breath debat- ing their professional status; they accept teaching as a pro- fession and have the confidence that other people accept them as such. This confidence proves itself most thoroughly in the English primary school. Here, the classroom teacher, in co- operation with the head mas- ter, determines the course of studies for the class and de- termines whatever methods Ys thinks appropriate; no one out- side the school presumes upon these judgments. Teachers can recount tales of persons who have at one time trespassed, and decided in the light of the results, to avoid any rcpe'.ition. The confidence that results has a tough, vigorous quality, free of abstractions and growing by daily exercise. Though the elementary teach- ers prove their professional dualities by their 1 decision making, and though the secondary school teachers share the confidence, the need to prenare and select students for university entrance erodes curricullar decision making by the secondary school teacher. The universities exert their in- fluence by requiring students to write examinations for the gen- eral certificate of education. Evidently, these examinations do not affect students who have r.o interest or aptitude for uni- versity studies. For these stu- dents, the teachers have com- plete local autonomy and use it imaginatively. However teachers arrived at this confident development, they now maintain their pro- fessionalism by its assumption. They exploit opportunities to make curricullar decisions and maintain their right to indepen- dence of action in all things ner- taining to their profession. They look with some wonderment at the requirement for compul- sory membership in teachers' unions common in much of Canada. The fact that most teachers in England belong to a union of some sort does not alter the fact that each teacher joined as a result of a personal decision. The funding bodies at the local and national levels recog- nize the strength of this profes- sional state of mind and value the reiated behaviors. In addi- tion to caring for the day-to- day operation of the schools by the provision of adequate fi- nances, these educational au- thorities provide finances for the creation of new instruction- al materials and procedures. The schools council, funded by the national government and local educational authorities carries on curricullar research and development activities which reach into every school in the land. Teachers, who make up the major member- ship of the School's Council, propose research and develop- ment projects, participate in their design and implementa- tion, contribute to the evalua- tion of the materials, and of course decide on their adoption for use in the classrooms of the land. The disinterested participa- tion of the national government and the local educational auth- orities in the operation of the schools council and the educa- tional development centres commands admiration. A Cana- dian schools council, consti- tuted like the British model on the competence of the nation's teachers might work within the complexities of the BNA Act. Its funding could come from the federal and provincial go-- ernments. The strong voice of the teachers in its organization and operation would protect provincial rights in education and would keep its activities relevant to the needs of the schools. It would give strength to the scattered Canadian ef- fort in educational research and development, and as in England, provide a means for maintaining, or indeed restor- ing relevance of the school to society; and more, if the cur- rent cry about the need for rel- evance and change in to schools does echo a need, a Canadian schools council draw- ing its directions from teach- ers represents a sound basis for mealing the need. The need to state objectives of the schools became evident through the examination of practices in English schools. The rather strange selling raised ready questions about as- sumptions: why do the students wear uniforms? Why do the comprehensive schools have a woman as one deputy head? Why do Canadian schools have so few women in senior posi- tions? Why does this school re- quire its students to take math- ematics and language and why does it allow options in all oth- er subjects? In discussing the objectives of one comprehensive school as defined by its practice, t. h e members of the staff realized in a surprised way that their school did what sociologists say the school does: this school, run by good people sorted stu- dents in such a way that so- ciety could place them in ar> propriate social and economic settings in their adult lives; In this school, as in many others, the students' performance on certain examinations had great influence on which university the student attended, or wheth- er or not the student attended any university, and what other type of training he might take after his secondary school train- ing. Our own Canadian schools discharge a like function. When a school principal, or a head master records the pur- poses he seeks with his exam- ination procedure, he pro- duces statements like these: to guide students in making a wise choice of further education; to help students in their choice of vocation; to -evaluate student learning outcomes. All good statements, those, but scarcely enough to cause a search of soul. How they contrast with the start statement of social purpose which says, "Tins school's examination system aims at so-tin" its students to fit into society." The very beauty of some of the school buildings in England exposed the ugliness of other buildings there, and of many school buildings in Canada. Sev- eral of the newer comprehensive schools accommodated well over students in a campus style school consisting" of three or four classroom buildings, and in several schools, an addi- tional and separate administra- tive building, all joined by walks and greenery. In the new schools the architects have in- cluded the best available views of the countryside. Separate classroom blocks would lead to obvious difficulties for student movement in Canadian weath- ers, but the success of the ef- fort to bring beauty to the chil- dren intensified the careless ug- liness of the classroom slung corridors whic'i ('.ominat much of our school design. Despite the visual success of many of the newer buildings, and shortcomings of other kinds, school architects in England, like those in Canada rarelv visit the buildings to evaluate the ef- fectiveness of their designs. Un- less the people using the schools call them to consult on a specific fault, they conduct little analysis of the effects of their design on the individuals in the school, on the adminis- tration, or on the learning pro- cess that the school should fa- cilitate. By placing curriculum deci- sion making in the hands of professional teachers, the Eng- lish schools have realized an objective which teachers i n many parts of the world could scarcely comprehend; their professional status enables them to design the instructional set- ting and it gives them the pow- er to ordsr the necessary equip- ment. Primary schools have ex- fcr tic. "I'm a politician, the fellow next f o me is a newspaper- man and this other fellow is a car salesman. Our problem is that nobody believes what we Book Review Merlin's Africa "A Story Like the Wind" by Laurens van der Pest (Clarke, Irwin Co. Ltd., Francois Joubert spent his boyhood at Hunter's Drift, a remote African farm owned by his father, where he came into a close relationship with the only youthful companions. They told him their "mer- linesque" stories, the ancient tales of the tribes handed down by word of mouth from one generation to the next. They imbued him with their own love and understanding of the land which had teen their home for centuries, with their empathy with the animals, the birds and all the creatures who shared it with them. So it came about that Francois, the French boy, developed a close, deeply affectionate feeling for his Afri- can friends, young and old, and shared a rare understanding of their magical world, of their kinship with their rich and splendid habitat. Van der Post remarks in his introuuction that his story tells of an "aspect which cannot be rendered by any purely ration- al means or any merely docu- mentary or factual processes It can only be done in the way in which Africa itself ex- celled and transmitted it from unrecorded time to the pres- ent day through satires, myths and legends. They alone can re- flect what I can only describe as the magic which life in prim- itive Africa seems to me to have possessed before we ar- rived from Europe to spoil it." So here it is a white boy's communion with what we, in our ignorance, call the primi- tive world, its plants, its ani- mals, its credo and above all its nobility. "A story like the wind" is for all who feel the pull of Africa, the "far off place" of a vivid imaginative people of unique character and splendid spirit. J. H. I Gnmewimus... make it easier. celient supplies of hands-on equipment: plastic and wooden models of clocks, scales, mea- sures, blocks, musical instru- ments, sports equipment, and art supplies. Doubtless many Canadian schools have like equipment in like supply; but the English experience demon- strated that people with power cared about what happened to the children in the schools. All secondary schools visited conducted a vigorous fine arts program. Able ard enthusiastic staff led the children through experiences in music, art and drama, and in at least one school, children learned inter- pretive dancing. The ready ac- ceptance of this form of edu- cation, and the provision of the essential equipment, materials ana spaces for the activities, made the effort in many Cana- dian schools teem a grudging, graceless concession. Most secondary schools had but a few compulsory subjects, a situation implying a greater freedom of choice than the facts of school life in England allow. The university exerts a readily detectable influence over educa- tional choice in the secondary schools. Students gain entry to university by achieving certain levels of performance on sets of external examinations created by six boards located through- out the country; of course, much teaching suffers from cram-complex, students must excel on those external exams. Beyond these precincts how- ever, a healthy ferment gener- ates new things. A primary school had adopted the ITA as a normal means of teaching reading to its children; the head mistress considered her experience had amply justified its use. Several secondary schools had educational pro- grams which brought the school into close touch with the com- munity or parts of it. Students in one school visited homes for the aged and provided enter- tainment md companionship. Another school centred in a clearly defined suburban area deliberately sought to remove the distinction between school and community. Parents came to this school for adult educa- tion programs; they brought their young children, and the techniques of child care, con- ducted a structured program for the youngsters. This same school had a library which served the needs of the school and the community; adults used the library as then- com- munity lending library. At one of the educational centres, a group of some 40 teachers, re- leased from their schools, pur- posefully worked on a curric- ulum plan dealing with a sys- tems analysis of their com- munity, certainly innovative ac- tivity of a mature, responsible ar-d productive quality. At an- other school, at the very mo- ment of our visit, a mathema- tics teacher received a box of draft materials in mathematics from the schcols council. The ex- cellent quality of these re- sources demonstrated that the schcols council has resources and carries out a thorough de- velopment process involving participation of teachers. A search of the aims implicit in these educational endeavors, and the contrast between those aims which involve much of the school's range of activities raises questions about our stud- ied neglect of education in ef- fective human relations; espec- ially when any school has the resources so readily at hand fellow human beings and so apparent a need. The British council planned an intensive tour of innovative educational institutions and ex- cellent schools to answer our reed for a clearer view of our own educational experience and our need for new ideas; and we did see some fine work. At one point, when the terms of reference had momentarily slipped from memory, the thought surfaced: "England has made it; with all the schools like this, what have we done with our great A curious happening restored the- balance. A class of children and their teacher visiting a mu- seum provided an opportunity for direct observation of a school outing. The teacher led her children in double file to the doorway of a display room, she paused, wordless. She bent her gaze over the children until (hey stopped shut- flinR, and rolled her eyes granting them permission to look through the room. She walked, oblivious to the trea- sures there, across the room to the doorway on the opposite side, and stood, n marker in front of whom I he children formed their file anew, English education lias its soft spots too. I wish you would come with me and meet Rebecca. Why? Isn't she just like the majority of Hutteritc women we could meet in any colony? Of course she is but she happens to be a friend of mine and, more important, lives in a Montana colony al- though she was born and raised in southern Alberta. Married to an American Hutter- ite, she cannot be accused of being "the ruin of Alberta communities, of not fight- ing for Canada, or taking advantage of the taxpayer without contributing anything in return." All these accusations, heard so often lately, are debatable. Small communities and corner stores are threatened by both corporations and big enterprise. A few Hutterite colonies have little to do with their gradual demise. As for fighting, it may take more courage to stick to one's principles than to give in to taunting public opinion. Few people seem to remember the first blood donor clinics when whole Hutterite colonies came forward before the rest of our communities responded to urgent appeals for blood. There isn't a more cheering telephone voice than Rebecca's: "Hallo there, we shelled a few pounds of peas for you. Can you come out and get them ing to undertones of ready laughter con- tinually bubbling near the surface, one would never suspect that she too has wor- ries and anxieties. The prospect of visiting her is as good as a tonic. The first time I called at her colony I spoke German to some of the small chil- dren who flattened their little noses against the windows of my car. "Do you really speak the Rebecca asked me. I had to read a chapter from her big fam- ily Bible before she trusted her ears. We have been firm friends ever since. Her hospitality is beautiful and underneath her quaint Hutterite clothes beats the warmest heart I have ever had the good fortune to meet. Over a cup of coffee or a glass of rhubarb wine we discuss the prob- lems of our generation and, in her child- like she often hits the nail hard on the head and points her workworn finger exactly to the sorest trouble spot. Within the short years of our acquain- tance, the Hutterites too had to make many major adjustments. Only two or three years ago when I arrived at their colony and was immediately surrounded by gaily chattering women, their first question used to be: "Did you listen to the radio today? What is the weather fore- And then: "Any Some would avidly, and very secretly, scan the editor- ials of any newspaper I "happened" to bring along. Not so now. They are permit- ted their daily paper and most of their younger people have a small transistor radio. Even now they practice a little self- deception. Occasionally a woman would, pull a small photo of her children out of a bottom drawer and proudly show it to me, guilt written all over her face. "We move with the Rebecca tells me. "We have flowers in our rooms now and em- broideries hanging on our walls and cal- endars, of course. The picture is not a pic- ture, it's a calendar. "Thou shall not make any graven image, or any likeness is still a commandment the Hutterites of- ficially adhere to. However, life is gradual- ly becoming less restricted. "If you think we Hutterites do not have to cope with the generation gap you are very much Rebecca admitted, the last time I visited her. "We too have boys who will sneak behind a shed and smoke and quite a number of our young people do leave the colonies to study or settle on their own individual farms." (Does that perhaps explain an accusation made repeatedly during the past weeks: "They (the Hulterites) circumvent the law buying land as "Many re- turn after a few years of freedom." "My little boy is in hospital in Leth- bridge with severe Rebecca told me sadly. "He tried to collect pop bottles round the garbage dump, lost his footing and fell into burning ashes. Had he worn our home-made ankle boots, he might have been all right but he insisted on wearing cowboy boots and the smouldering ashes got inside. By the time we could cut them off, all skin came off with them and now he has to have skin grafts. He will be all right, we hope, but right now he suffers terribly and the colony pays a day for his hospitah'zation. We have no health insurance. Expensive pop bottles He will love the chocolates you brought. Thank you." "Our religion hasn't changed and we en- joy living together but, like most children, some of ours too have to learn the hard way." "Would you like to see our She is as proud of this dairy she is in charge of as she is of her beautiful home- made furniture, polished to a shine you can sea your face in. Rebecca is also in charge of the vegetables and works in the fields with her little girls who all seem to be so contented with their lot. The children may only attend school to grade 8 but they are all bilingual, never appear to be bored or envious, and their bright happy little faces stay in my memory when I return home in my car to color television, stereo tape recorders, paint- ings and carpets, shelves full of books and well educated kids who don't know what to do with themselves. "We are people with Rebecca said, before I left apologizing for a small boy who begged for a ride in my car. How- ever, giving the delighted child a short ride, I thought how nice it was to see that Hutterites are people like us. How many objectors to the Communal Proper- ties Repeal Act remember or bother to find out this simple fact. "I have nothing against Hutterites but they all say. "I have nothing against Asians, Italians, Jews, Negroes but... they are different." Doesn't prejudice, fear and dislike stem from merely a difference in people and life styles? The Macleod MLA made a very valid point when he said: "Hatred for these people and bigotry has no place in a Chris- tian society and no place in the province of Alberta." Tribal customs in Africa By Marian Virtue Did you know a black man buys his wife or "wives" in some parts of Africa? I made the great discovery by talking to my waiters in South and East Africa. "Waiter, are you I asked. "Yes, Madam." "How many "Eight at present." His reply initiated a lecture on overpopulation. At breakfast I reminded him of our conversation and to my astonishment, he confessed, "I didn't tell the truth last evening. I have 13 chil- I gasped in horror. "But madam, you don't understand. I have five wives." "Please bring me more cof- I said. "Five wives that's shock- So that's how I found out a black African can have as many wives as he can afford to buy. More wives means more children, more people to cultivate the Kaffir corn, herd the cattle and hopefully more girls to sell. Furthermore, the African buys them on the "installment plan" paying for them with cattle. I was told by a black courier, when on safari in Kenya, that my daughter was not properly married. Rather abashed, I waited for his explanation. "Girls in Canada and the United States are given 'free' to a husband. We buy our wives in Africa." Hastily, I retorted, "So you think girls should be put up at public suction like cattle, sheep and he re- plied, "but a girl who isn't bought is not married." "Has the black girl any say in the I asked. "No! but her lover can't have her until the price is decided by her father and paid in full." In the meantime, members of the Kraal (village) know she's picked, so no one goes near her. If the young man loses his job or can't keep up the cattle pay- ments, he notifies her father, who returns all cattle received. A "white flag" goes up in front of the rondovcl indicating she's "for sale" again. This is a financial loss to the father. She's older now and the price will be low- er. A young virgin brings a high price but should the husband discover she is not, he can ship her home and demand his cattle back. Each wife must Iw given her own thatchcd-roofcd tent-shaped rondovcl, cook- ing pots and bed. When she dies, the ron- dovcl is never used aga'n and is left to disintegrate. These sinnll homes of the wives are most attractive, especially when the sun lights up the thatch and the shiny plush brown effect of the exterior of straw, cow dung clay. Decorations vary ac- cording to trite. Because of the delightful climate of South Africa, cooking is done outside. When it rains, a fire is made on the centre of the beaten clay floor. When the smoke rises through the thatch it looks as though the rondovels are on fire. Unless very old, the men work away from-the homeland, in factories, mines, industries and cities. Wives are left alone, for months, with the farming, bearing of many children, and training them to herd the cattle. On a very hot day, on the highway through the Transkei, (Tribal Trust Land) a common sight is a very pregnant woman in native dress, with a baby, its head bob- bing, tied to her back by a shawl wound around her waist. On her head, she bal- ances a suitcase; a large clay pot filled with water or mealies; a sack of potatoes or two stalks of green bananas. In each hand she carries parcels, as older children run beside her. Behind her, in Western style suit, and hard hat, is a man, pre- sumably her husband carrying noth- ing! One seldom sees an African woman with her head uncovered. Because of their dislike of their tiny, tight tufts of black hair, they wear straw wigs, scarves, poke bonnets, or an elaborate turban to cover them up. This head gear often in- dicates their marital status. When they sit under a thorn tree to rest, out comes a four foot slender pipe and they relax with a "dagga" smoke. Near Pretoria, the government, because of the historical value, has set up a replica of a 100-year-old Ndebele Tribal Village, where of this colorful tribe re- side, completely supported by the govern- ment. It was the old women of the tribe who remembered and assisted the design- ers to set it up. Women's Lib will be inter- ested to know that some tribes accept wo- men as their chief. In that country, where the black popula- tion doubles every 10 years, most tribes refuse family planning. The government will supply birth control education, but to tamper with tribal customs is as dangerous as Western governments intcrfcrring with their churches. Because of the Bantu's beliefs, fears, witch doctors, spirits, superstitions his dedication to the realm of rex. n lri> r.l black seems to find it hard to reach much personal achievement or to carry his share of the load in this fast moving modern world, with its taxing demands on society. ;