Saturday, 8 December 2018

Language limits our world: the proposed Hornby library, aquatic centre, and service centre

It was philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein who said "The limits of my language mean the limits of my world."  According to Wikipedia this has also been translated as "The limits of my language stand for the limits of my world", and "The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for."

I reckon that this is true, and I think it is easy to imagine that this is big in our thinking on what we do in schools.

It is also why I support the City Council proposal to build the new Hornby community library, swimming pool, and service centre, on the Kyle Park site immediately cross the road from our kura.

The site sits within 5 minutes walk of approximately 1200 students from four schools, and immediately across the road from nearly 1000 of those. Hornby High School itself is projected to grow to 800 students within 5 years and is master planned out to 1200 students.

Few schools can provide sufficiently broad learning resources (books especially) to meet the full needs of their community, yet those books and other text based resources help us to expand our language and so expand the limits of our worlds. Ready access to top class library facilities will supplement in-school services. Access to civic library facilities so close to the school would support more ubiquitous learning, helping to cement that learning into the fabric of the community. The synergies that develop when such facilities are located close to schools are in evidence elsewhere in the city, the Riccarton Library is a great example. There are several delightful pieces of jargon that I hear around government circles to describe this, and I can't resist sharing these with you. The 'powers that be' talk about 'functional adjacencies', or the 'synergies of juxtaposition'. I love that jargon.

The facilities that we provide withinTe Pai Rewa and Te Pai Tūhura were designed to offer our own 'functional adjacencies'.  That is, access across a range of learning resources form text based resources to technology and design resources allows each to support the other. The whole is more than the sum of the parts. To then supplement these with the resources that now typify a forward looking and forward thinking civic library service is an exciting prospect. It offers a real shot not just at equity, but at real 'liberation' for our community.

This is the mantra of our work with the Manaiakalani Education Trust, and the Manaiakalani pedagogy 'Learn Create Share'. This is all about 'liberating' our young people, by accelerating their learning, by making their learning visible. This is THE way to give rangatahi and whānau options in life, and if nothing else, education is about giving people options.

And modern libraries are not what they used to be. The Councils' own new central library 'Turanga' is an outstanding example of this evolution, with traditional book resources and other text, maker spaces, collaborative spaces, and much much ore. I think that modern libraries of this sort are a great support for our 'Learn Create Share' pedagogy. You could even argue that they represent an ideal resource to support 'Learn Create Share'.

In addition, Hornby High School students have no easy access to aquatic facilities, meaning that they have little or no opportunity to access water safety learning. The new facility would provide access to a swimming pool for most of the 11 to 18 year olds in the community.

This is a life changing (and arguably life saving) investment in its own right.

You could be very clinical in your thinking and simply see this as making sure that the children of Hornby will emerge from our kura as fully functional 'economic units', competent workers ready to fit into the flourishing Hornby economy. That would be true. I prefer to think if this as allowing children in the Hornby community to find their true humanity, to see an expanded world, to lift some of the self imposed limits that we all have so that the world can more truly benefit from their amazing array of talents.

Our Hornby community is delightfully diverse, but included in that diversity are pockets of deprivation, and large numbers who have been come to be called the working poor: whānau who often have two adults working solid honest jobs but still unable to provide for their children simply because of the exorbitantly high costs of housing compared with low minimum wages. Education for children is a powerful way to break that cycle, and supporting formal schooling with educational connection into libraries, the world of words, and the world of 'Learn Create Share', is perhaps the most important enabler of that.

My final plea to the Hornby Halswell Community Board was: 'please don't heap deprivation on top of deprivation'. By that I meant, please don't deprive this community of this amazing resource. By placing it so close to these four kura, the Council would be making a strategic investment that leverages off the $30m investment made by the Ministry of Education. It would be adding much more significantly to the social capital of the community. This would be smart, clever in fact!!

'The whole is more than the sum of the parts'. Our language limits our world.