You put the unity in Community
Updated: Oct 1, 2019
The Dove and the Ant
An Ant, going to a river to drink, fell in, and was carried along in the stream. A Dove pitied her condition, and threw into the river a small bough, by means of which the Ant gained the shore. The Ant afterward, seeing a man with a fowling-piece aiming at the Dove, stung him in the foot sharply, and made him miss his aim, and so saved the Dove's life. "Little friends may prove great friends."
Building a strong sense of community is important for all of us, why?
It is clear from numerous amounts of educational research that children achieve more at school when their parents are involved in their education (Park & Holloway, 2016), and great schools have effective partnerships with their parents (Đurišić & Bunijevac, 2017).
You may not be aware, but there are a few interconnected dimensions of partnerships with a school community. These dimensions are institutionalised partnerships, democratic partnerships, neighbourhood coalitions, and interagency collaborations (Valli et al., 2018). Many of these partnerships encompass the day-to-day life of the school, across the entire school year. It is important for us to have these partnerships with our community; internally, locally, nationally and internationally, because it provides our students with a depth and breadth of internationally-minded teaching and learning.
Institutionalised partnerships of a school can be seen in the formation of a Parent Support Group (PSG) or Parents and Friends (P&F) committees and class-parent representatives. These kind of roles are vital to sharing and collaborating towards meaningful action that reflects the identity of a school and its culture. Schools form democratic partnerships within not only these parent groups, but also with a student council. By doing so, schools look toward the wider neighbourhood for enriching collaborations and ongoing partnerships locally that can support and promote learning and teaching. There is an interconnectedness that is created by these groups and beyond, in events such as engaging in external competitions (like Lego Challenges, Science fairs), welcoming local politician visitors, local art, theatre, entrepreneurs, businesses and cultural attractions, or the local Police who may deliver to the community internet safety seminars. Beyond these connections in a local community, schools look beyond their national context through interagency collaborations with other international schools. This could take the form of sending students to other countries as an exchange or field trip, students in Performing Arts collaborating with students from other countries through technology, or being able to share learning through class-to-class international communications.
None of these examples are possible without the help of the entire community. The old saying goes, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, and this is completely true if you are able to provide the right village. So what is the right village?
This can be done with an emphasis not only student agency, but parent agency in our shared life of learning. Parents as the primary educators of their child, are now involved in student assessment and reflection in the modern classroom. Parents are mentors and supervisors for middle-year service and action experiences and school cultural events which embed learning and teaching. Parents are part of the learning journey. In International Baccalaureate (IB) World Schools, ‘it matters to us how we involve our parents meaningfully to provide students with an authentic environment so they can experience how their learning can be applied in the real world and make a difference to our extended community’ (International Baccalaureate Organisation, 2019)
Is this quality education? has this got anything to do with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #4 entitled: 'quality' education?
Are you helping to create and sustain a quality village?
This village has you in it and your participation is valuable. The IB vision and mission of the Learner Profile is all about a quality global village. You create this village by living, eating and breathing the Learner Profile.
However, the problem we see today is what constitutes quality?
Some people in higher education have thought about this question and have conceptualised the definition of quality into four broad categories:
Purposeful: quality as fulfilling predetermined specifications, requirements, or standards.
Exceptional: quality as something distinctive, exclusive, and excellent.
Transformative: quality as effecting positive change in students’ learning in the affective, cognitive, and psychomotor domains, and personal and professional potential.
Accountable: quality as accountability to stakeholders, for the optimal use of resources and the delivery of educational products and services with zero defects.
(Schindler et al., 2015, p. 5, in FutureLearn, 2019m)
Your quality is not necessarily my quality.
Context is important.
If it means that I get to do Mathematics by counting rocks under a safe tree with a teacher, instead of counting the dead bones of my family in a catastrophic environment, then that is quality. In this instance, you the learner can't do it alone.
Nevertheless, what matters is that we are all in it together.
U put the Unity in commUnity.
References: Long, J. R. (2014) ‘Aesop’s Fables; the dove and the ant’[website] Available at: http://aesopfables.com/cgi/aesop1.cgi?sel&TheDoveandtheAnt Accessed on: 29 January 2019
Đurišić, M. and Bunijevac, M. (2017) ‘Parental involvement as an important factor for successful education’, CEPS Journal, vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 137-153. Available at: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1156936.pdf Accessed on: 29 January 2019
International Baccalaureate Organisation (2019) ‘How to engage parents in school life’, The IB Community Blog, Available at: https://blogs.ibo.org/blog/2019/01/21/how-to-engage-parents-in-school-life/ Accessed on: 29 January 2019
FutureLearn (2019m) H880 Technology and Learning: Educational Futures [website] 'Assessing quality', week 4.1 Accessed on 1 October 2019 https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/h880-educational-futures/1/steps/525973
Park, S. and Holloway, S. D. (2017) ‘The efforts of school-based parental involvement on academic achievement at the child and elementary school level: A longitudinal study’,The Journal of Educational Research, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 1-16., Taylor and Francis, U.K.
United Nations (2019) 'SDG 4 global indicators' [online] Available at: http://uis.unesco.org/sites/default/files/documents/11-global-indicators-sdg4-cheat-sheet-2018-en.pdf Accessed on 1 October 2019.
Valli, L., Stefanski, A., & Jacobsen, R. (2018) ‘School-community partnership models: implications for leadership’, International Journal of Leadership in Education, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 31-49, Routledge Taylor and Francis Group, U.K.