an investment in value
Support for the Canadian Classroom on Rails is an investment in value.
It’s about talent – Canadidates for Canadian Classroom … go through a rigorous selection process to identify gifts often missed by linear testing. We’re looking for multiple intelligences: three or more developed strands in the spectrum of cognitive, spatial, linguistic, musical, kinesthetic, artistic, emotional, intuitive and gestalt abilities.
These people know their local culture and have a sense of how the ensemble of the kanata village fits together. Canadian Classroom… develops that aptitude. It gives them experience that furthers their inquiry, fine-tunes their faculties and encourages their expression.
It brings them together with peers of promise and potential. It exposes them to mentors, some of the brightest lights in the country. It offers a quality educational environment, stimulating and balanced without a trace of élitism or snobbery.
It’s about leadership – Many people come to power and influence by one of two routes. Some rise by sheer smarts that enables them to step around or over others and scheme or strong-arm their way to the top. Others do it by makes themselves liked, incurring IOUs: a more democratic route that works when leadership is a popularity contest.
Neither of these is adequate. The first ignores the consensual element that could make their leadership more effective and lasting. The second lacks the qualitative content (vision, moral suasion) that could take the masses they’re trying to mirror beyond where they already are.
Canadian Classroom… develops leadership of a different kind. They can defer to others in the group without abdicating their standards. They can take responsibility and initiative without being grasping or manipulative.
This is the type of leaders needed in a democratic society: ones that neither cater to the lowest common denominator nor superimpose a straitjacket. By example and inspiration, they bring out the best in all. By the quality of candidates we attract and the processes of interaction we foster, Canadian Classroom… can produce that kind of leaders.
It’s about community – Candidates for/graduates of Classroom excel at the task of “think globally, act locally.” They’re already connected members of the communities they live and grew up in. To be motivated to apply, they’ll have an interest in what makes kanata a comm-unity. To be successful in their application—to be selected—they’ll have to show a more than rudimentary grasp of how this works out in practice.
Canadian Classroom… is an intensive workshop in making this a reality. Candidates selected will be representative of very differ communities that make up the Canadian mosaic. From the moment they first meet for orientation, and throughout their time aboard, they’ll be challenged to build these different qualities into a lab and model of working together.
The railcar setting helps make this happen. There’ll be no escape from the crucible of the group experience, no retreat to silos—except briefly to their bunks and journals at day end. Expert staff and a shared routine aboard to forge a cohesive body, a corps d’esprit that faces a situation and comes up with a solution that is an enduring alloy of the best each has to offer. Canadian Classroom… grads will be a rare, skilled group of individuals, building community—and country—out of shared values that will leave others asking “Now why didn’t we see this before?”
This is a multiculturalism that is more than giving each group three minutes on stage at a Heritage Day. It was a Canadian businessman, John Murray Gibbon, born in Sri Lanka, brought up in Scotland and educated at Oxford, who used the word “mosaic” to describe what’s happening here. Hired by Canadian Pacific as General Publicity Agent, he used Company hotels to host folk festivals and pressed management to promote bilingualism—without legislation, back in the 1930s!
Businesses invest in their communities to show they’re good places to live, work and deal in. Canadian Classroom… is a model of this principle.
It’s about a more cohesive Canada – Great resources, a small, spread- out population, and diversity give us a country that’s often up for grabs.
The first resources—cod, furs and timber—attracted Europeans whose main interest was what they could take out. They looked on the people already here as incidental, arming the tribes as allies in trade wars.
When some of these newcomers settled and began to look on the land as home rather than a project, the tribal divisions became those of the cultures they’d brought with them. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Lower and Upper Canada were divided to provide separate government for English speaking immigrants in what had been a French colony.
This come together/pull apart became a pattern that’s continued. Prince Edward Island first decided to stay out of the Confederation conceived in Charlottetown three years earlier. Of the four provinces who came in, Nova Scotia wanted out at its provincial election after Confederation
British Columbia, who came in later on the promise of a railway, began to have second thoughts when the line was delayed, and the voters in Ontario said, “If they want to go, let them.”
For the last 40 years of the 20th century the shall-we-leave thinking came from Québec and then from the two western provinces once they got the economic cloud to sell themselves on the international scene.
Through this second guessing, business tries to carry on as usual until its sources of supplies, markets or financial framework are jeopardized. At the 11th hour before Québec’s referendums, CEOs of corporations weighed in with advertising and other support for pro-Canada events.
There’s no reason to suppose these challenges are forever behind us as long as we leave underlying issues unaddressed. If we continue to think of ourselves regional and tribal terms, we’ll be susceptible to these fault lines being stoked, perhaps to fracturing point when other crises arise.
Economics do not create the issues. They can be powerful catalysts that drive them to crisis proportion. At that point sectionalisms—language, belief, immigration can become lightning rods that lead to a meltdown.
Our project is to articulate Canadian values that are more deeply rooted than the latest trade pact, more resonant than drumbeating for battles in 200 year old wars. This goal can bring together our parallel histories, present realities and future potential in a vibrant evolving constellation.
These reference points already exist, shared by peoples in all walks of life, all regions and across ethnic lines and generations. Relating them in terms sufficiently specific that they can be claimed across a broad band has already been done. They are there ready to be acted, danced and sung, recited, debated, paraphrased till they’re “bred in the bone” (Robertson Davies). They can shape and strengthen us before another crisis has us falling back on tribal reflexes and defense mechanisms.
Public schooling does not always serve us well here. Provincial based curricula can become captive to regional stereotypes. When they self-consciously tries to counter these—the protocols of the four western provinces is a good attempt—they can dilute the zest of our stories in a bland purée that lacks life and conviction. Our stories need to interact, bounce off, and instruct each other rather than being told in isolation.
People in our regions, notably Québec, the Atlantic and the West have had justifiable misgivings at the suggestion of a homogenized national curriculum prepared, packaged and presented from the top down.
Here’s where Canadian Classroom… comes in. We bring together … home turf … We express/articulate the values (cliquer), embody them in our dealings/relationships on the road and we … test of experience.
This qualitative work will be carried forward by the numerical success of our project. If Canadian Classroom… achieves a maximum optimal size of 100 students per year by 2017, we’ll graduate 1000 in a decade.
By mid-century our first grads will be entering middle age in positions of influence in the country. By 2067 our alumni will number 5000.
Such a cohort spread throughout Canada, with friends and contact in all regions and thoroughly conversant and grounded in their own kanata roots, will be a significant bridge between former solitudes. They’ll be model citizens in a country that comes together in cohesive community.
After four centuries years of parallel experience it’s time to recognize and promote a Canadian culture that’s not an assimilation of one part of the country by another or a sellout to the lowest or highest bidder. Such a project will succeed if it’s based on a recognition of values that are historic, land based and spiritual.
Canadian Classroom… can be a prime contributor to that. By recruiting its participants from the many streams of Canadian life, exposing them sensitively and respectfully to the parts, without forcing into a mould, it will allow for emergence of an integrated whole greater than the parts.
The breadth that earlier leaders laboured to straddle this new generation will effortlessly embody and correlate with wisdom, skill and grace.