Literacy Outreach: Meeting of the Minds
Encouraging encounters and interactions among adult learners is not an easy thing, but coaxing a deer and cat into close proximity is an even harder task.
For awhile the cat and the deer got along, long enough to share nibble time and enjoy a snack and face-to-face time.
I encourage community members to visit the literacy centres I work at and meet the staff and teacher (me). I did this in Lax Kw’alaams, BC. With a close-knit First Nations community of about 1000 people, Lax Kw’alaams is a small, remote community in Northwest BC with no direct access by road.
So, in this case, I sent out announcements on the “Mickey Mouse”, or CB Radio. I posted flyers in the public buildings. I let all my students know that there a small gathering at the leisure centre, and that food and coffee was being served. I talked to everyone I met in the village about the event. I visited teh Elders’ Centre and spoke with some of the Elders. I even sent out letters of invitation, and spoke to Band Councillors.
Offering food, encouraging current students to come and bring food as a potluck, and adding prizes, all seems to be a great way to encourage a meeting of the minds. During the meeting, we talked about the role of literacy, and about the courses and programs. This was a time to meet adults in the community. Many visitors mentioned they felt nervous about coming in “cold turkey” unannounced, and so the open house gave them a reason to drop by and see what it was all about. Such events tend to be well-attended, and oftentimes, there were about 15-25 participants.
Organizing the Open Houses was one of the highlights of working in a one-room schoolhouse in small communities as a literacy practitioner. I really enjoyed the events, and enjoyed meeting everyone.
Food for thought.