Written by: Doug Breen

Humour columnist Doug Breen prepares lessons plans for his imaginary Equine Immersion school.

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Krista and I opted to put our kids into English Immersion school, owing to the fact that we thought that they might do better being educated in a language they can actually speak. We were wrong. My niece and nephew are kicking derriere in calculus, taught in the original Rene Descartes French, while my kids can barely add in their mother tongue. I suspect that the experiment is repeatable, and that we’d see the same results if it were Latin, Mandarin or Klingon Immersion.

Last weekend, I started and argument with my brother about whether the government should be funding French Immersion (some would call it a debate), which was initiated by me stating that he was “an elitist who thought that his kids were too good to go to school with the great unwashed.” You can see how that led to more of an argument than a debate. But you have to understand that this is what my family does for fun – someone picks a position on a topic and makes a grandiose, often uninformed, confrontational statement – and then “debate” it until we have to break out the defibrillator.

But it got me thinking about all the other types of immersion that one could base a fully funded system of education on. I grew up in Farm Immersion. A large part of our kids’ education has been through Trade Show Immersion and Horse Show Immersion. I could use more help around the house, so Landscape Maintenance Immersion or Gutter Cleaning Immersion are on the table – although technically that would be Home School. But the one that seems to have the most potential to me (and by that, I mean the one that seems like it could be the most beneficial to me) would be Doug’s School of Equine Immersion.

The core course material would be based on children being bussed to a barn, where I would “teach” them, by having them do miscellaneous chores that I don’t want to do. Why have your children sitting in a classroom with a teacher reading to them, when they could be mucking stalls while I read to them? And I’ll read to them in any language that you want. We could discuss history while building fences – maybe a unit on the history of fences. For math class, they could figure out how many gallons of paint it takes to paint the roof of the barn – then check their math by actually painting the roof of the barn – for which they’d get an art credit. Advanced math would involve handicapping parimutuel wagering during our weekly field trips to the track. For science, someone can change the oil in my truck (plus an environmental credit for taking the oil to the recycling depot for me). For gym class, they can bale hay – and for sex education, they can figure it out by watching barn cats, like I did.

This should be a piece of cake. If governments across the country have seen fit to fully fund an education system in a language that the students don’t even speak, then surely I can convince them to fund Equine Immersion. When they realize that they won’t have to spend a dime on building classrooms for these students, they’ll be all over it.

And why stop at having kids do work that I don’t want to do and calling it a school? Why not turn my school into a profit centre? We could have Saddle Making Immersion, Farrier Immersion, or Cobbler Immersion or Textile Immersion. What’s the difference between my idea and the third world sweat shops that are allowed to exist today? The Board of Education would be paying me to teach your kids to make boots and riding pants, for no pay at all – en français.