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field notes 4/26

Riley's picture

Last Friday at my field placement, it was Grandparents' Day at the elementary school. All of the children in the school's grandparents were welcome to come to school with their grandchildren on this day, and they followed along with the students during their lessons in the morning. Most grandparents then took their grandchildren out for lunch, and spent the afternoon with them outside of school. Because of this, the lesson plan for the day was changed from what it normally is, and after lunch, there were only about five of the fifteen students left in the classroom.

Although it wasn't a normal school day, I still made a lot of interesting observations this day, especially in terms of class--although I encounter a good bit of diversity at my Friends school placement, it is still interesting to me that every single student's grandparents in my placement class were able and willing to take time out of their day to spend time with their grandchild. Would this have been different in a public school setting a mere few blocks away from this center city school? Probably. In a less affluent school setting, it might be considered presumptuous to assume every grandparent is able to take time out of their day to spend time with their grandchild at school, and them take them out of school for the afternoon--perhaps the grandparent has to work, or has other commitments; perhaps they are not retired at as early of an age as some more affluent people in the Philadelphia area. These are important things to consider.

These are all generalizations, but considering this class element of Grandparents' day at my placement helped me reflect on the culture of independent schools, and how (grand)parent involvement is never even questioned in a school like this. It is wonderful, but also admittedly wonderfully convenient in terms of having a homogenous student body to consider when planning events like this.

Another interesting aspect of my placement was the Quaker meeting held in the morning before recess. Normally, the school holds weekly meetings on Wednesday afternoons, but since it was grandparents' day, they held the meeting on Friday. I had been to a Quaker meeting before in another Friends school in the Philadelphia area, but I was still very grateful to get to experience this, since it is such a critical element to Friends school culture. The meeting house was packed with teachers, students, and their grandparents. Some children got up (this was a rehearsed part) and asked, "Who or what do you take care of and how has that changed?" There was a long silence, and then several students and several grandparents got up, each answering the question, some responding to what others had said. It was a very pensive and peaceful moment, and I enjoyed it.