So SWATCA is the South-Western Alberta Teacher’s Convention, and it is held every year for two days on what is the University’s Reading Week. (You all remember getting that extra long weekend for Teacher’s Convention, don’t you? I loved it as a student.) It’s usually held at the U since it’s so big – obviously.
So it’s mandatory for all PSII and PSIII students to attend, as well as all teachers who are members of the ATA. You even have to show your nametag (for student teachers) or your ATA card to get into the sessions. They were alright. The sessions, I mean. But the most amazing part of the entire two days was the opening keynote speech.
Craig Kielburger started Free the Children when he was 12 years old. He read an article in the newspaper about another 12 year old boy from Pakistan who had been sold into slavery when he was 4 years old. Iqbal Masih was handcuffed to a carpet loom and forced to tie thousands of tiny knots every day. He later escaped and began to tell his story, which gained international recognition. He then moved back to Pakistan and, as Kielburger tells is, was riding his bike in front of his house when he was shot and assassinated for speaking out.
Kielburger rushed into his Social Studies teacher’s classroom, holding this crumpled news article that had enraged him at its blatant injustice. His teacher agreed to help him out, and so was born Free the Children, starting in 1995 with twelve 12-year-olds. Today, Free the Children boasts impressive numbers, like: 1 million people now having access to clean water, 15 million US dollars worth of medical supplies sent to Asia and Africa, and 305,000 youth engaged in helping others around the world.
Could we have had a better speaker?
I feel lucky to have been able to hear Kielburger’s speech anywhere, let alone at the teacher’s conference. When he finished speaking, 1,500 teachers from Southern Alberta rose and gave him a standing ovation. It left me aching to learn more and feeling inspired to go out and change the world for the better – a “shameless idealist” like Kielburger himself.
Anyway, I’m drowning in unit plans and unit assessments and unit tests and all sorts of nonsense. Update soon! But in the meantime… check out the websites!
Much end-of-PSII love!