Candy, Mangia and the Mall Bench: Lessons on Community from my grandparents

I have been thinking a lot about community, trust and relationships lately and how they impact learning together. It dawned on me I had learned a few lessons from my grandparents.

When i was little my grandfather used to stash his pockets full of candy on a Sunday morning before heading to church. I wish it was for me (I may have sneaked one or two). He’d stand by the front door and use the candy as a way to entice the reluctant child, the coughing adult or the individual that just needed a little cheering up.

My grandmother was all about the food. She had her staple: pasta, tomato sauce and meatballs. She wouldn’t stop there though. If you weren’t digging the pasta, the nuts would come out. Then the cheetos followed by the cake. Whatever she could do to keep you at the table eating. My mom’s side was no different. She would put on the most elaborate spreads to entice groups to come together.

My memories of my grandfather (dad’s side this time) was always as a retired man. There was this bench outside the grocery store in the Queensway. Every day my grandfather would make his way down the block and meet his friends at the bench. They made their own piazza to meet and chat.

It may seem like the three stories above aren’t connected but as I have been thinking of community, more importantly how we build community I realized that there is always AN INVITE. Whether it was my poppy’s candy, my ma’s screams of mangia or my pa’s bench there was an invitation to engage in community.

I worry that sometimes in the routine of community, in the tweets and posts, I have forgotten the invitation to engage. It was that invitation that got me connected online, allowed me to meet great educators face to face, lead me to new learning opportunities. Someone always pulls (or pushes) you into a new community of practice. Sometime takes that risk or sacrifice to pull you in. So I’m left with the question of how am I inviting others to engage in learning together?

Time to go bake some cookies. 

Do you agree? Can you remember any invitations that made the difference in your learning? Love to hear your thoughts!


3 thoughts on “Candy, Mangia and the Mall Bench: Lessons on Community from my grandparents

  1. Good morning Tina. I have 2 things. First, I think you are always inviting people to try new things e.g. #20hr project. I think your pocket of candy, so to speak , is the way you show what you are excited about and how others are excited about things too, through your Twitter or blog or Instagram. I think sometimes because you are so used to inviting people you don’t see how good you actually are at it. Could you do more? Probably. But I would say that you do a lot all ready.
    Second, I agree that sometimes people need an invitation to belong, some jump right in, but some are reluctant. I have a rule for inviting people into a community. I call it the Elvidge Rule after a great teacher I met at Worthington p.s. Mrs Elvidge would say if you feed them they will come. I have come to realize that it is not only food that people are hungry for. There are a few people I follow who’s pockets are full of sweet bits of insight and tempting pushes to improve practice. I think the hurdle to get around is that the community is virtual, we have to imagine the park bench, but are friends are still there and all you have to do to invite anyone else in is just a tweet or post away. So, keep feeding me all that great tech stuff, I enjoy learning this way and I do take it back to my school and try it.

    • First of all thank you Don for the kind words.
      I do love the Elvidge Rule. There is something about community, connecting and food eh? Definitely is that shift in not having that element of community always be physical.
      Thanks for commenting.

  2. I have to agree with @libramlad you have invited me on so many amazing journeys and although we don’t have a bench where we meet, we are only a tweet away.

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