“Simply caring about students, while necessary, does not constitute a critical pedagogy” (Kincheloe, n.d., p. 9).
It was in my Grade 12 year that I remember most vividly being thrust out of my comfort zone and into a community of learners in a new school, of which I felt a lack of ties to, a disconnect with. It’s not typical for one to move out of province in their final year of high school after having spent the prior eleven years growing up in one area, living in one community for that totality. Leaving my community- being wrenched from my school community due to reasons beyond my control and understanding- was perhaps the single hardest thing I was forced to deal with at the dynamic age of sixteen. Young and in love. Carefree and believing I had life by the tail. But in the end, I was left without a sense of belonging in the new space I found myself living in.
For me, that move was devastating.
When I think of community, I think of people connecting to create spaces that invite dialogue. I think of people sharing, interacting, helping, listening. People exchanging. I think of people supporting and encouraging and caring and enabling. Because for me, community is that safe place in which to fall when life has been rough. It is a harbour for the storms of life. It is where we feel belonging.
In thinking about reaching out to others on this planet, I think of my physical home here in P.E.I. as rooted in the world community. The community around me is one to which I feel connected, linked, joined to and attached. In this way, I care about this community of which I am part. When my brother or sister in far-flung places is hurting, I feel with every fiber of my being a desire to reach out in a neighborly way to care for that being, to care for that soul. Not because I feel a sense of condescending matriarchy due to my position of privilege- but simply because of our shared humanity. Our shared community. I extend this caring to the environment and the animals and ecosystems and beyond. They are my backyard, my fields and forests, even though they are millions of miles long and far away. This world is my home. And the care I feel stems from the part of my heart that is taken up in love for these spaces and places and beings I share this community with. These members of my worldwide neighbourhood.
But it is not enough simply to care.
What is called for is critical care- in the very same ways one might find a critical care nurse offering his patients attention. In the very form that nurse attends to those people they care for. Not in ways that are patronizing, condescending or demeaning; but rather, in ways which are loving. These caregivers nurture so as to initiate change. So as to see transformation in the very lives of the ones in their care at that given moment. And when the time comes that the tables are turned- that those same nurses are in need of critical care, they would expect the same from those they call their colleagues and friends. From those they call their neighbors. Because that’s how critical care works in a shared community- we give when we can give and we receive back when we find ourselves in need.
This world is our community. We must care for this community enough to act in ways that might make this world a better place- both for ourselves and most especially for others whom we proudly call our neighbors. After all, that’s what communities are for- creating a sense of belonging for the members which inhabit them.