The difference about the block plan is that classes aren’t so much places you go for a few hours a day to learn. A block done right is an experience in and of itself.
My last block is a great example of this. I was in Self, Culture and Society, a foundation Social Science class taught by a visiting tutor from the Squamish Area.
First things first, meet my class.
I came in on the first day to twenty acquaintances, one amazing tutor, four bare walls, and one table in the middle.
We left with all the tables and chairs pushed to the side so we could sit on the floor. We left the classroom covered in art pieces and we each left with twenty new amazing, genuine friends.
Some block’s are a lot more than just classes, they’re experiences and this is great example of that.
On the first day of block I showed up to class full of familiar faces, but no one I had really spent much time with. We started by singing songs, meditating, painting, passing around a talking stick and spending time in the forest. It wasn’t your typical Quest class and I wasn’t sure what exactly I was going to get out of it.
But, all in all we did some pretty incredible things together. We gathered over 300 signatures for a petition to make First Nations residential schools a mandatory part of the curriculum in BC schools. We met residential school survivors and wrote letters to ones we couldn’t meet in person. We also laughed, cried and learned to authentically appreciate each other.
Let’s skip to the end, this was my final project, a summary of what I learned throughout the block.
You can watch it here:
If you watched that and went, “Wow that’s some super heavy stuff.” Yup. It was. And I don’t know how I could have possibly opened up and experienced so much without the support, understanding and compassion of my classmates.
That being said, it didn’t start that way. The community we built within our classroom didn’t come easy.
We spent a lot of time exploring the idea of self and sharing that with each other. Sounds abstract? It’s not. Which is the scariest part. I had to share what I tangibly felt and saw as myself. Everyone did. For a whole week.
For someone who doesn’t really associate as being a “feelings” person, it was waaaay outside my comfort zone. We used some alternative techniques to get there. This included making “self” dolls and telling the stories of our “selves” in a puppet show format. I know, you’re probably thinking “that sounds super weird” and all I can say is that it is, until you do it. So just trust me on this.
And voila–our beautiful dolls.
After a week, we got moving outside of the idea of self and worked on culture and society. We learned about First Nations culture through art by witnessing pieces from the Museum of Anthropology, the Audain Art Museum, and the Squamish Nation Cultural Center.
We then spent a week working on reconciliation and participating in Project of the Heart. Below is a picture of us building our art piece as an act of reconciliation. We were so lucky to have this piece witnessed by a residential school survivor who came to share with our class.
Here they are with us!
This is the final product that is now on the third floor of the library building. Next to it is the artist statement we wrote and a description of Project of the Heart. If you’re on campus you should check it out 🙂
Next, we stood next to our piece and got over 300 students to sign a petition to mandate that residential schools are a mandatory part of the educational curriculum in BC. We also wrote letters to more of the survivors who couldn’t be with us.
In order to offset the heavy things we were witnessing, we had a mandatory hour outside everyday. One of those days, we hiked the chief as a class.
Here are more pictures of our class if you’re curious 🙂