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PLAN Edmonton Helps the Whole Schooling Consortium Conference in Edmonton
By Chris Horrocks
Vice Chair, Whole Schooling Consortium


It will come as no surprise that the same Philia principles of creating a caring and inclusive community are shared by many public school educators. State and provincial education bodies across North America have targeted the creation of 'safe' schools in all of their funding initiatives. Most public education curriculum includes a strong thread on social responsibility where teachers invite a deeper understanding of citizenship in the ongoing mentoring of the school day.

While this direction of educational care is encouraging, it is also the case that in many of our schools students who are at risk or live with various vulnerabilities are often sent away from the classroom or placed in separate programs or even separate schools. In our effort to provide 'service' and rehabilitation, the very students who need to be in the centre of the citizenship teaching are absent and may be seen by staff and the student community body as 'other'. In North America this list might include First Nations students, minority language students, students living with poverty, students living with a disability, students whose behaviour is confusing, or students the school district has labeled 'gifted'.

A group of teachers, administrators , classroom assistants, parents and teacher instructors from across North America have formed an organization to explore and further the dialogue on creating citizenship for all kids in our schools. The group is called the Whole Schooling Consortium and I invite you to connect to our website in order to understand our principles and our work.

With the help of shared funding from the Alberta government, Concordia University College in Edmonton and Wayne State University in Detroit, the Whole Schooling Consortium hosted a conference in Edmonton on April 29-30, 2005. The proceedings of this conference and a collection of the papers presented will be available in our free online International Journal of Whole Schooling, which is contained on our website. Invaluable help and many volunteer hours were contributed by Denis and Kathie Bell from PLAN Edmonton, who took on the construction and mentoring of a World Café dialogue on citizenship and belonging which formed the core of our two day conference. PLAN Edmonton was also instrumental in the location of funding to support the conference.

Participants included school administrators and trustees, parents, world citizenship advocates, peace organizations and teachers. Many of the participants were from the immediate Edmonton area, but it also included inclusion project staff from Florida, Oregon, and Michigan.

Judging from the continuing emails we receive, the conference was, to steal from Philia language, both catalytic and inspiring. Thanks again to PLAN Edmonton for their mentoring and please look out for our ongoing work.


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