As the longest day of the year draws to a close, I sit marvelling at the speed with which the last academic year has flown by. By all measure it was my son’s best educational experience – ever. He has been transformed. IPS (faculty, staff, students, location) has been a seminal influence, an oasis of learning and experience in what has been pretty much a desert since Grade 2. Pointing to the various highlights — hiking, kayaking, Ultimate tournaments, the intellectual immersion of Masterworks, cooking classes and math made visceral with catapults and flying eggs — does not capture the essence of IPS. Something else made a 14/15 year old get up at 5:15 am to catch a 7:30 am water taxi to Bowen in the cold rainy dark and make the long way home via the ferry and the West Van 257. What fuelled this desire? I think it was the community of both the school and Bowen Island. It was a place where people cared about his progress: celebrating his successes and helping him with his challenges. It was a place where camaraderie easily passed through the grade divisions and where a student could contribute in a tangible way. It was a culture of learning that nurtured creativity and questioning, valued the classics, welcomed all manner of intellectual investigation, and treated all with respect. It was the sense that all of this matters. We can have fun doing it, but always with an implicit understanding that it’s important.
It was in the Fall, the early days of Grade 9, when we began having conversations about philosophy at the dinner table. The Masterworks topic shaped book reading, video watching, music played and future dreams of travel. I soon forgot about the “make work” projects my son completed (or not) with disdain in Grade 8 as he engaged in the IPS assignments – working without prompting late into the night. I soon realized you don’t have to preach the value of hard work when the system (school) values the effort and the project has meaning. Well before Christmas I realized that this was a singular year and I began wishing for an IPS grade 10…
Thanks, IPS. You have changed my son in many ways. You supported his unique qualities, celebrating his contributions to the school, and you did your best to introduce him to the world of joyous learning. I trust his year with you will sustain him whatever the future holds.