Marsha Forest loved to teach.
She would arrive early in her classroom, whether it was a university lecture hall, a community centre or a shelter for homeless people, and immediately re-organize the room. Chairs would be placed in a circle, (“I need to see faces”) people’s handout materials would be stacked everywhere, juice and snacks would be set out and whenever possible, beautiful, inspirational music would be playing.
As each student arrived, Marsha would welcome them with a grand smile, a handshake, a hug and a comment – “Great to see you!”, “Thanks for coming!”, “Where’d you get those great shoes?”.
And for the next several hours or days, Marsha Forest would listen, lecture, argue, crack jokes, challenge, inform, enlighten and – most of all – inspire. And some of her greatest teaching sessions, in communities across Canada and around the world, were about the ideas and approaches contained in this booklet.
Marsha came to Frontier College at a time in our history when we were moving into many “new frontiers”. With her husband, and then Frontier president Jack Pearpoint, she was helping us to see that the inner city school, the factory, the homeless shelter and the prison were as much of a frontier as the isolated logging camps or railway gangs of our earliest days.
She wrote this booklet to show all of us how to connect, in a meaningful way, with the people living in these places. And she taught us.
She taught us how with these techniques and approaches, we could go, respectfully, to all of these places and work with people in pursuit of their dreams, however grand or however modest. She taught us to see brilliance, curiosity and accomplishment rather than illiteracy, despair and poverty.