Today, Sir Ken Robinson is one of the world’s most well-known and highly-regarded educational thinkers. In a presentation given to the Royal Society of Arts in late 2010, he argued “every country on earth at the moment is reforming public education”.

That’s an astonishing claim — why would educational reform be so widely spread? Well, you hear it every day, don’t you, in all sorts of media — “schools are broken.” I’m not comfortable with such universal declarations of disaster! Imagine if the people criticizing schools donated half the time and energy expended in their criticisms to volunteer in schools in their communities!

“Community” is the key word; without it, any school is only a building, students, teachers, and things. It doesn’t have a soul.

When you’re in a school that is also a community, you can feel it from the minute you walk in the door. There’s a warmth that you feel, fellowship, perhaps best defined in the six core values of the YMCA of Greater Toronto: inclusiveness, health, responsibility, respect, caring, and honesty. These are the qualities that bind together every community. They define the YMCA Academy.

Our school is a community school, part of the new centre of community that is the Central YMCA. You can feel that the minute you walk in the door for your first visit. You don’t see formality; you see people helping each other.

Our staff and students like to come to school in the morning. When we have breaks, they look forward to coming back. They want to see each other and share the experience of what it means to be at our school.

If your school has that, fantastic. Come by and feel what’s it’s like over here, and we’ll share our successes.

If your school doesn’t have that, then please come by and feel what it’s like over here. We pride ourselves on always having good coffee and snacks around. Come in and test us out.

Don Adams – Head of School

Apr. 17th, 2012 – Are Schools Broken?