I love to bake and share my baking, so naturally on the picket line people are savouring my cookies, cinnamon buns and oven fresh donuts. On Friday I made donuts and was sharing them with teachers and any passer byes. Two homeless men, one pushing a grocery cart full of his possessions, stopped to chat and eat my wares.
Right away they turned the conversation to their own schooling. Both had dropped out of school; one in grade five and the other in grade eight. One told me he was illiterate and said that he always had learning problems. When he was a child they separated students like him. He said they put him in a room with others sharing similar problems and nothing much happened. As a result: he never learned to read. He said he really wished they had teachers like me in the sixties (probably the donuts).
It’s true things are different from back in the sixties. Children with special needs are now in the regular classroom most of the time. They are given extra help but are fully integrated into school society. When we talk of classroom composition this is what we are talking about: a class composed of every type of student not just those physically or cognitively able to function without extra help. It is a mirror of what we are striving for in Canada in general: full integration and equal rights for all. In order to maintain quality education there needs to be a limit to the number of children with special needs in each class.
I’m hoping these homeless men are ghosts of education past. I’m not so sure though. The two programs I worked in this year that supported younger versions of these men were eliminated due to budget constraints. I fear my homeless friends may be the ghosts of education yet to come.
* Submitted byVivian Morris