Sylvania in the fall of 2002

FTLComm - Sylvania - Saturday, September 21, 2002

Located less than a half hours drive South of Tisdale the village of
Sylvania is hardly unique. A few local businesses, a community centre and community recreational facilities, compliment its kindergarten to grade six school.

So many Saskatchewan communities are like
Sylvania, they were never large, but since people settled in the area, these small communities provided the interaction and community support that is so much a part of rural agricultural life.

Shopping and many other services are provided by the nearby larger centre, but the essential family and sense of belonging come from and around the village.

On Friday as part of a project I dropped into get some pictures around the school and just happened along on career day.

The students were in excellent spirits and their teachers were busy providing them with the atmosphere that would make any urban dweller drool with envy as the students share the learning experience in mixed, but small grade classes. I enjoyed watching the grade four and fives tackle a math class making use of online drill and practice material. One older student and one younger student shared each of the terminals in the central core of the building taking turns working on the material that presented itself on the screen.

Sylvania is one of the pilot schools to get a high speed Internet connection. Using a system that has been around for some time, where by a small dish on the school's roof, provides the downlink while the up link goes through the telephone system. SCN has taken on the responsiblity of operating this system and though it is slow initially making contact, the downlink feed is rapid and more than adequately serves the various terminals all accessing at the same time.

The benefit to the students is enormous, as they do not have to endure a huge amount of time each day communting to and from school, which clearly, as the major bonus, but in addition, the multigrade classroom shared learning experience, produces (well documented in various studies) excellent independent learners, who approach their study from a substantially different manner than students who have had a single grade classroom experience. When you couple this with low pupil teacher ratio and access to up-to-date resources via the Internet and the school's paper library collection, these students have almost an ideal learning situation.
The other and definitely impossible to assess its value, is the remarkable setting. This is where these children go to school each day for the first seven years of their school experience. I climbed the little sliding hill that the School Division has made as part of the school's playground and from there I did a full 360º set of pictures (seen below) which allows you to see the school sitting beside the road on the edge of the village with playing fields, skating rink and the their countryside all around them.

This is a QuickTime Virtual Reality image and to view it you require QuickTime which
download's free and adds considerable capabilities to your computer. This image will not play with Microsoft's media player.

Timothy W. Shire


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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
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