Teachers Institute on Canadian Parliamentary Democracy
What a lovely evening in elegant surroundings! Surroundings which have held us awe-struck all week! None of us will forget the privileged access granted to us during these days and thus – sitting in the PM’s seat, or gazing upward at the ceiling of the Senate, or meeting a particular parliamentarian, have been entrenched in our memories. And yes, I chose entrenched just for this audience!
We have been enriched and nurtured in our knowledge of parliamentary democracy this week. From the gentle yet rigourous beginning on the constitution, through each session and concluding with our bejeweled justice and the “twin” O’Briens, we have been offered inspiration and experience through the example of each of the presenters. It is not lost on each of us that the speakers were consciously chosen for their ability to engage, and provoke, and each demonstrates for us the human face of democracy. It was an honour to meet and rub shoulders with parliamentary staff, our MPs, famous Canadians, and senators. We came to Ottawa as glowing embers. The program ignited a fire in each of us and the presenters and staff famed the flames of these fires!
The appreciation that we have received for TEACHING, for doing our jobs with thought and consideration, touches our hearts and our minds, and honours us in a way that few of us have previously experienced. Regardless of the depth of, or lack of, parliamentary knowledge, we experienced a week which allowed us to think, question, reflect and grow, especially in the political spectrum which exists on the “Hill.”
Each of us has absorbed special memories in this time spent together. We are a unique set of personalities, interests, range of experiences, and knowledge gathered into “colour groups.” I will take away from this week pride in our nation and in its democratic institutions. I have always had a deep respect for our democracy, but it has grown in a new and profound way this past week. I’ve also found a new set of Social Studies geek teachers, and I mean that in the most flattering way possible, to trade stories with and to network new ideas and best practices.
We have just experienced a cherished opportunity in our teaching careers. It will alter our teaching practice on parliamentary democracy and I believe that the wondrous example modeled at the institute of putting a human face on parliament will translate back in our classrooms into a deeper compassion for our students, parents and colleagues.
I think that, as we were told on Thursday, the Senate may be the “long term vision for our government.” Well, the Teachers’ Institute is a long term vision for infusing democracy in our teachers, and by extension, our youth. We have a deep appreciation for the arduous and accommodating work of the Library of Parliament staff who organized the Teachers’ Institute. Please rise and join us in expressing that gratitude to Alain, Katy, Christine, Dianne, Jubilee, Benoit, and Andrew as well as the many “behind the scenes” staff. Merci, thank you, merci beaucoup!