For many years now, some educators have been looking at how our education system could be modernized. Everett Tetz is one of those people, and he’s trying to shake things up in the educational system...
Words and photos by Alex Hondas
Tetz, a 33 year old councilor and teacher has been running a skateboard club at the Glendale Sciences and Technologies School in Red Deer, Alberta, for the past few years on a little concrete pad right by the playground. In the latter half of 2012, Tetz was given the chance to take his idea of a skate class to a whole new level. The city of Red Deer approached Glendale about having the new skatepark built on the school property, which they eagerly accepted. As soon as the skatepark idea was pitched, Tetz wrote a curriculum that would take skateboarding at Glendale from a club to a class. As we know though, skateboarding isn’t exactly something you can give grades in.
Mr. Tetz in the classroom.
“I’m not particularly fond of grades in any class, especially at this age for kids who are between kindergarten and grade eight,” says Tetz. “I mean there’s a place for grades, but I don’t believe there is a place for them in skateboarding.”
The homework isn’t learning how to Kickflip or drop-in on a ramp. Instead, the curriculum focuses more on the skateboarding industry and how people who might not be talented enough to go pro, can still potentially make a living in it. The kids will be filming each other skating, and then eventually putting that footage together in a short video so that each student has their own skate part. All students will be involved one way or another, whether it’s through designing board graphics, shooting photos, or editing the videos. Anything a student has to offer to the class will be accepted and worked with.
“Skateboarding taught me about painting, photography, and video editing; it’s a bit of a gateway to things that we are already teaching at the school, but giving kids another avenue to be creative while they do it and also learning about skate culture while doing it”, says Tetz.
Learning the process of assembling a skateboard.
Many have asked what benefits would a kid get joining a skateboard class over a traditional school sport like basketball. Tetz responds: “The fact of the matter is, skateboarding teaches some of the skills we expect to see from kids now. IBM released a study where they asked many corporations about what the most sought after attribute of a future successful employee was and the attribute that was picked was creativity. I look back on all the people I grew up with skating and they are some of the most creative people I know. Today, as teachers we are now expected to teach that skill to kids. So when asked how skateboarding compares to basketball in that sense, I say there is no coach, there is no textbook, kids go out onto a skatepark and are expected to learn how to manipulate a 32” x 8” piece of wood. Getting it to flip, getting it to carve or roll up a bank all takes creativity from that individual. But it also takes a lot of determination. Think if a kid took the same approach to math class as they did when they were skateboarding. Try hundreds of times and fail, just to get it right once. That’s what we’re trying to teach these kids through this program. Skateboarders are some of the most resilient individuals in the world because it is an activity that does not come easy. People have to work at it and show persistence. We hope students take those skills and transfer them on to other things.”
Everett Tetz, Backside Smith at recess.
Currently the class is just in its beginning phases. At this time it is has been given the green light by the Deputy Superintendant of the school district to offer the skate class under the banner of Physical Education. Although it is currently affiliated with the physical education department, Everett is approaching the school board this year in hopes that it will become a stand-alone option and its own class. The sky is the limit with this program, and who knows, it might even be something the next generation of kids will be offered in school.