Imagine a wave over taking your house. Destroying everything inside and around it. What would you do? What would your next steps be? Would you move and start over or rebuild what you at one point called home? A lot of families in New Orleans dealt with these exact decisions when Hurricane Katrina hit their town. Some families moved away and started over while others, with the help of many volunteers from around the country, helped rebuild the community. In the process of rebuilding the community, a school was created known as Our School at Blair Grocery (OSBG). This doesn’t sound like a typical school name and in fact this isn’t your typical school.
In Ari Le Vaux’s piece “A Different Education: Compost and Community, Not Literacy” he talks about how Hurricane Katrina has changed the community of New Orleans’s Garden District and how a school, OSBG, has now developed. Le Vaux informs us that “many of the students [at OSBG] can’t read [and] learning to read is not mandatory.” So you might be wondering, how is this a school? Learning to read and write are basic skills and building blocks for new material right? Can you even imagine what it would be like to live in our society without being able to read or write?
It’s important to remember what has happened to this community. It has been destroyed and the civilians were forced to start over from scratch. Obviously this school does not follow the average US education system but this school is not an accredited school. It’s the surrounding community that decides what needs to be learned and because of the disasters, it is more important for the students to learn certain survival techniques. In Le Vaux article the school founder, Nat Turner, “thinks worse disasters await, both natural and manmade.” Whether or not he is correct, it is good that the school is teaching and preparing its students for the future, which is what every school in the nation is suppose to do. Although this school is not accredited, OSBG is still educating its students just in a different way than what we are use to. Education is a very broad term and has multiple meanings. Trying to cover it all it a short definition, I would say education is the process of learning concepts that will eventually become the foundation to learn more in depth material in hopes of ultimately bettering oneself in the future. We all learned thing in high school that in college we reflect back on or build from, and we have been educated on things that will help us with our future and help us better ourselves. We all agree that having an education is the best thing for us especially in the economy we now live in. There is no better example then the economy that OSBG deals with. The economy they are in is a “food desert, without easy access to fresh produce.” Because of this, OSBG teaches its students how to plant, harvest, and screen soil in order to deal with this economy.
Yes, education can have many definitions but they are all very similar. Le Vaux defines education as the process where “student’s explore their interests, learn skills, and formulate and pursue goals.” I would agree with Le Vaux. We all attend school, especially higher-level education, to explore our interests, learn skills, and formulate and pursue goals. At school we are enhancing our skills and learning new material; and although all of us are receiving different educations depending on our interest/major, it’s still an education we are learning from a school. Just like at OSBG, where the students interest is to repair their community. Throughout our lives we take baby steps in learning new material. In order to benefit the most, we have to completely understand one thing before we move onto new material. Similar to at OSBG where the students are taking baby steps with rebuilding their community. The students have to have a stable economy before they can begin to learn what the average American student learns.
OSBG’s motto is to “create a resource rich-safe space for youth empowerment and sustainable community development” and this is exactly what it is doing. Le Vaux even puts in his article that “one current student is a former gang member suspected of vandalizing the school when it first opened.” However, now he is in school becoming educated on concepts that he will eventually build off of to learn more in depth material in hopes of ultimately bettering himself in the future. This student is bettering himself through education.
Although when you first read Le Vaux’s article you may be shocked by how this school functions; it’s important to realize that OSBG is still educating its students just in a different way than what we are use to. Each student is benefitting from the education they are receiving while they better themselves and their community. Eventually I would like to think that the community would build itself back up and the students would move on to learning reading, writing, math, and science like most high school students. But just like everything else, it takes one baby step at a time.