More to education

March 17, 2016

It was interesting to interview several school principles when I worked on a couple of newspapers in southern Saskatchewan in the early 1980s. It seems it is the principle that sets the tone and educational philosophy behind what educational slant is encouraged for the students.

The following profile article shows that the Lafleche School principle at the time was an advocate of teaching the everyday things that we all need to know and practise as adults. I like this idea because I think sometimes a lot of what we learn in schools is too abstract (ie algebra) for us to ever need to use in the ‘real’ world. The exception, of course, is if a student decides to become a mathematician.

I guess a good mix of the practical as well as the academic is a good thing:

Gravellbourg Gazette — Lafleche News

November 30, 1982

More to education

by Tanya Lester

There is more to education than learning algebra equations and how to write an essay in order to enroll in a university or college program. A young person needs to know how to cook, how to buy a house, and how to cope with family problems so he or she can live a better life during future years.

Over the last few years, Tom Chell, the Lafleche School principal, has been instrumental in combining the academic training program at his school with education on general life skills.

To do this, and to deal with the decreasing school enrollment, the teachers at Lafleche School have had to utilize there own life skills as well as their formal academic training to teach a wide variety of courses.

Mr. Chell, himself, has taught or is teaching law, psychology, physical education, social studies, science, reading, career guidance, and home economics– both cooking and interior design.

In home economics, Mr. Chell taught “survival cooking” to grade 9 and 10 students. The course focused on “how to prepare a meal for yourself when everyone else is away.” Mr. Chell said both the boys and girls really enjoyed this life skill. “I can cook because I do it,” Mr. Chell said. “My wife is working, too.”

For the interior section of home economics, Mr. Chell has discussed  matters with his students such as the pros and cons of buying or renting a home. They look at single family dwellings and apartments. They talk about how to use living space wisely. Mr. Chell has helped in the building of his father-in-law’s house, a cabin and an apartment block.

When Mr. Chell teaches the law class, he goes into contract law such as how to use a contract to buy or sell a house. The students learn about the Canadian court system, with the help of a Canadian text book. For example, they are taught about the procedure for appealing a court case.

In a psychology class, the students might discuss ways to deal with their own frustrations, family problems and divorce. With the increase in marriage breakdown, Mr. Chell believes this is an important part of the course.

The regular academic courses are still available, at the school. for those students who want to go on to university or college. Many grades at the school are doubled so, according to Mr. Chell, students often have to work independently and without constant teacher assistance. Those students, who will be going on to university, will find developing these more independent study habits to be to their advantage.

For the students who will not go on to formal higher education, there are the courses in life skills. Mr. Chell believes offering these courses has decreased the drop out rate at the school.

Mr. Chell would probably not have been able to implement this type of program, however, without the cooperation of the other teachers on staff, the students, and the parents. Offering such a variety of courses means extra preparation time for the teachers. “One characteristic of the staff is the willingness to go the extra mile to meet the kids needs,” Mr. Chell said.

Concerning the students, Mr. Chell said he has not met one that he does not like. The students are friendly just as is the community in general.

Mr. Chell said the parents were a bit skeptical about the new program when it first started but they have been supportive. “When it comes down to the crunch, they’re (the parents) 100 per cent behind us,” Mr. Chell said.

Hailing from Flin Flon, Manitoba, Mr. Chell has taught at the school for two years, as well, has been principal for another four years. This is the first year that the school board has agreed to allow him 30 per cent of his time to do administrative work.

Mr. Chell is taking his Master’s Degree by attending night courses in Regina.”I’m trying to meld the two together,” he said. “I’m taking theory at night and getting on-the-job experience.”


To read more of the varied posts on this blog, please go to or

Tanya also does psychic readings — tea leaf, tarot, Russian gypsy card reading, psychic channelling and medium ship as well as house sitting and reiki. To access her services go to ; her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google or email her at or call 250-538-0086

Tanya’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader (you can purchase from the author or from, Women Rights/Writes, Friends I Never Knew and Dreams and Tricksters. These books are available in library systems and the last three are in the Legislative Library of Manitoba.


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