Last week I was in San Francisco for four days. It was a total tourist experience. We whiled the time away with three extensive walking tours: China Town, Fishermen’s Wharf, and Golden Gate Park. I have lived most of my life on the prairies in sprawling urban spaces and small villages. The high densities, well used public transport, and insane topography for vehicles impressed us both.
We walked for three days. One day I calculated we walked for 25 kilometres through a variety of neighbourhoods. Inevitably, I was drawn to the children I saw as we walked along (The street people were too depressing to meditate on). Such a variety of languages on the streets as the tourists mingled. Groups of young people, usually dressed in common t-shirts, trouped about with adults. Some were in from surrounding California communities and others were from local child care programs. I was capturing them in a brief moment in their summer life.
I wondered about the sorts of schools they went to. As you can imagine, many of them had ear buds attached to their heads. The visitors snapped pictures of their own with cameras, iPods, and tablets. I wondered if these devices followed them into their schools. I started searching for signs of schools as I walked. I found evidence of so few. On Height Street I passed a Chinese Immersion School. There was a public school in China Town. For all my walking, I did not get a sense of San Francisco’s public schools or how they might compare from one neighbourhood to the next.
I’ll be honest, my PLN is pretty weak right now. My blog rarely warrants comment (it serves me in other ways, none-the-less), and my digital footprint in general is in decline. I do not have strong connections. Yet, the people are there across the world (though particularly in North America). I do connect. My questions are answered. At times I even feel useful to others. My network is strong enough, that when I knew I was going to San Francisco, I wished I had a Twitter connection there I could talk to. I could have asked about those illusive schools I was searching for. Wouldn’t it be nice to arrive at an airport and see a message from local educators welcoming you?
Saskatchewan is not a monoculture. A NATO training base and immigration have made our classrooms a bit more eclectic. I have some sense of the schools the Chinese, British, and German children I noticed in the tourist crowds because I have had young people from those communities in my classroom. I can guess at the schools the American children go to from all that I have heard from my network.
I also know that I will be tuned now to San Francisco education simply because I have been there. I would enjoy strengthening my network in that direction. Too bad there wasn’t a short conference there last week. That would interest me more than the shops of Haight Ashbury I think. Ah well! I was there to spend time with my sweetie, and that is what really matters!