Evan Fryer was the Alumni Program Chair for three years, since it’s inception in 2010 until Britney Quail took over for the 2014 season. Evan was instrumental in the development of the program, and is to credit for many of its best elements! Both Evan and Britney are true testaments to the idea that you can take the student out of a Heritage Fair, but you can’t take the Heritage Fair out of a student: after participating in Regional, Provincial, and National Fairs, Evan continued working in the Heritage Fair community as an alumni, eventually culminating in his status as Director for the BC Heritage Fairs Society. Though he is no longer Chair of the Alumni program, Evan is still looking to be part of the fun and learning that are embodied by our Alumni. So without further ado, I present to you this season’s guest blogger!
I challenge you to think back to your earliest childhood memory. This may be no easy task, but I encourage you to really concentrate. Where were you? Who were you with? What were you doing?
Initially, this challenge could have been overwhelming for you; however, I am confident that at least one significant memory has popped into your head. Why am I this confident you may ask? Because I am certain that the memory you chose is meaningful to you in some way. Meaningful because of the context of your situation, the people you were with, or the environment you were in. As we move through life, I believe that creating these meaningful moments is the key to learning and the key to growth as an individual.
Thinking back to childhood, “playing” was something we did without any consideration. It was natural to us, exploring the world in a kinesthetic, hands-on way. However, slowly through the years, we begin to formalize and institutionalize our “play” by attending school. Although I am a strong believer in education, I think that there is a fundamental flaw in the way that we are eliminating play from our pedagogical approach in today’s society, particularly as we move towards the secondary school level. Restricting learning to a textbook and the walls of a classroom is unconstructive and detrimental to truly grasping subject matter.
I believe that learning needs to be experiential in nature in order for us to truly understand the world around us. Firstly, schools need to create concrete experiences for their students. Secondly, students need to be given the opportunity to reflectively observe upon those experiences from different perspectives. Too often is an egocentric lens placed upon our analysis of the world in schools, particularly in Western culture. We need to be more cognizant of other people’s diversity and their beliefs and ideologies. Thirdly, students need to participate in abstract conceptualization of curriculum and content. In order for us to promote creativity and innovation in schools, we need for students to critically think about these experiences and apply them to a greater level. Finally, students need to be given the opportunity for active experimentation. This last stage of experiential learning is the key to creating those extremely important, meaningful moments, and hopefully moments that you will remember for the rest of your life.
Participating in a Heritage Fair in British Columbia is the epitome of experiential learning. The process of creating a meaningful history project and sharing it with the world addresses all of these aforementioned, contemporary issues. Exploring and discovering where our ancestors have made mistakes in the past gives students the tools necessary to make change in today’s society and the future. Furthermore, if students are selected to attend the Provincial Fair, the BC Heritage Fairs Society provides them with the opportunity to engage with history in a hands-on way by delving into the past. The benefits of participating in this program are endless.
The more we can create these meaningful experiences for our youth, the more equipped they will be to face the world. We need to bring back “play” in schools and lead students on a path of discovery: a path to discovering the past, and a path to discovering the promise in themselves and the world.
Author: Evan Fryer