Francis W. Parker School believes that as part of a global world, we must teach students about diversity in order to strengthen their capacity to relate to one another, so that they may learn to treat others with respect and kindness, and challenge behaviors that oppress, exclude or demean the humanity of others. (Source: Taken from school website)
In October, I had a chance to spend the morning at Francis W. Parker School in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. I’ve seen the school before, as I walk by it several times during my week, living just down the block. The outdoor sculptures and the recently installed turf football field have left a desire to get a sneak peek inside the school’s classroom, their numerous art studios, and of course, cafeteria.
Martha Nussbaum, a philosopher on education in America, shares that poverty is a lack of freedom to reach potential. After spending the morning at this school, truthfully, rich, poor, or somewhere in between, I would want every child in Chicago to go there. I would hide in the cupboard to get a job there. The resources are numerous and the amount of choices seem too many to count. Whether that be the freedoms in the woodworking room to the ability to choose between a turkey sandwich, a plate of pasta, or a tray of sushi at lunch, this independent school offers children a chance to grow and learn in a provided for environment.
While I was told that children come from all over the Chicagoland area each morning, younger kids being driven to older students taking various forms of public transit, I had the hope and vision of diversity, I am not so sure.
The school in its mission stresses a holistic approach to educating a child, knowing we are global citizens. Does poverty need to be visible for me to believe its there? Or too, can it blend in for the opportunity of all? Or me, as the observer, do I create a whole new layer of being the outsider?