Welcome to A Life Examined

What is the examined life? A life worth living! As I look at the road ahead, I take all the baggage from the past and use it as experience - the pain and the passion, the sorrow and the joy - allowing it to carve wisdom into my mind and hope into my spirit.
There is no experience that can't be useful to me at some point in my life. There is no lesson learned that cannot make a contribution to the future.
A tiny drop of water is a part of the ocean. A tiny speck in the night sky is a ginormous star in the distance. It all depends on perspective.
So, this examined life is to offer reflections in the hope of discussing things which are of value to myself and to others.
Love, Sarah

Friday, 5 October 2012

Priorities in Education

I have a page on facebook dedicated to this blog. It's called Sarah Tun Examine Life Blog. Not so original perhaps. If you have a facebook account, try this: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sarah-Tun-Examine-Life-Blog/234040270034925?ref=hl
Because you see, today I've posted an item about education.  It's an issue - and an item - that's important to me.

BTW: I'm not very educated when it comes to social networking. I try and sometimes I manage to make things work. Here is my alternative attempt to make sure what's important to me about local issues in education get a hearing: http://www.thewhig.com/2012/10/02/schools-group-launches-sign-campaign

Some local people seem befuddled about priorities in education. What is the purpose of education? To keep kids off the streets and out of the house? To provide a means toward higher education or to enable youth to work? To teach kids to think and to express themselves?

An issue has arisen in my local board about school closure. There aren't enough youth in the board, apparently, to keep all the schools open, so they are looking to close one or two of three in the downtown area. The item written in the Kingston Whig Standard, for which I've posted the link above, talks about a group who are not befuddled at all about what kids need in education. In fact the group is very switched on: they say keep the schools open as 3 distinct schools for 3 distinct student bodies and extend use of the buildings into the community so that each school with each of their unique locations, student bodies and programming can remain open.

I think that's a reasonable idea.

I care passionately about one of the three schools in particular: KCVI - that's Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute. I care personally because I want my 7 year old son to attend the school. Academically it's the best in the city and competitive with any of the best in the province. I've posted below my letter to the editor that the Whig Standard newspaper (Sun media) printed on 14th September 2012 ago. And I also added a responding comment from another person who agrees with me, which was printed on 17th September..... And incidentally, I have since discovered that in Brantford several years ago BCVI was on the chopping block... until a passionate council woman took it upon herself to campaign to save it. The school thrives now, modernized but on the same sight. If it can be done in Brantford surely it can be done in Kingston!

But back to the main issue here - schools and priorities in Education. You can't fund if there isn't any money. BUT if you don't invest in young people you'll end up paying a lot more in welfare, unemployment benefit, crime and prevention, alcohol and drug rehabilitation, all sorts of other problems in society that are a reflection of a lack of good, appropriate education.

IF we love our kids, give them a reason to get up in the morning and go to school. To think, to dream, to reach toward something achievable but which is a s-t-r-e-t-c-h so that they can learn, can grow and can contribute to society in a positive way throughout their lives.

That'll be a boost to the economy in the long run!
Letter to the Editor: The Case for KCVI: Not broken, don't try to fix it

   Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute was given a ranking this year of 62 out of several hundred secondary schools in the province of Ontario. It is the only high school in the Limestone District School Board that is oversubscribed. It has been popular amongst educated folk -- out-of-province professors who are offered positions at Queen's University often accept their posting after considering the excellence of the local KCVI. Having their own children to educate, it becomes a major factor in their accepting a post in this relatively small community.
   Whether or not to keep this excellent school open is on the table. It is at risk of closure because the school board has too many buildings. It stands now as the oldest operating school in the province. To reface KC would be costly, but what about the cost of closing it down?
   I'd like to address that, which at first, would seem like a digression.
   I have spent 20 years abroad, having returned from years away in England, a very old country with very old buildings, including very, very old schools that are the envy of the world.
   My husband, an established lawyer and banker, went to a school called Whitgift that was founded 800
years ago and is still running. Of course, the main factor to consider in any school is: does it educate effectively? Whitgift in Croydon, England has a fabulous reputation. As do Eton, Winchester, etc etc.
   Now the difference is that these English schools are private, whereas KCVI is run by the province. Money has to be evenly distributed across the board in the public system in Ontario. But consider, which is the top priority in Limestone DSB -- to educate or to economize? Money can always be raised. And education can too easily be diminished.
   I am Canadian, born and raised in Ontario, a Queen's grad and a former teacher of secondary school, in this province and abroad. I enjoyed the privilege of working for the Frontenac County Board of Education before it expanded and was named Limestone DSB. I know the area and I know children.
   My case for keeping KCVI open is simple: you have something that is unique and isn't broken. Don't try to fix it. You can't. You can only improve the building. Changing the site will demolish the one thing you have: a history and spirit of fine education in a building which holds the love of learning in its fibre.
Sarah Tun, Kingston

Comment to the Whig Standard: School's age and quality unrelated

   I find the lamentations over the age of Kingston's best high school laughable. And I readily associate myself with the comments of Sarah Tun ("KCVI: Not broken, don't try to fix it," Sept 14). I was fortunate at 12 years of age to attend Colchester Royal Grammar School (CRGS) in England.
   It was founded by King John in 1206 and had its charter renewed by Henry VIII and again by Queen Elizabeth I. The modern part of the school was built in 1852, although most of us through the ablutions dated from the reign of Good Queen Bess -- or some other time before hot water was invented. the point here though, is that the age of buildings does not prevent excellence in education.
   Even in these modern times, CRGS stands first in Britain for the highest marks among candidates for British "A" levels -- senior matriculation, necessary for university entrance. It is exactly because of the 800-year tradition, the school spirit and the atmosphere of the old school buildings that pride and achievement have been, and remain, so high.
   With such a basis to start with, excellence in teaching can't fail. Check out CRGS on the Intenet. I, for one, will always be proud of being an Old Colcestrian -- it has stood me in good stead these many decades. Most of the graduates of KCVI I have met feel the same way. KCVI ain't broke; leave it alone.
Terence Cottrell, Kingston

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