Monday, February 21, 2011

dignity and respect in the classroom

Noted educator Deborah Meier wrote a piece recently in the blog she shares with Diane Ravitch, Bridging Differences, about dignity and respect in the classroom. She wrote:
"a study done across national borders showed that people, when offered liberty, freedom, and dignity as choices, picked dignity as the thing they wanted most. I thought that was interesting. Being treated with dignity is, I suspect, part of our natural aspiration as humans. And while it can be crushed, it can also be restored. My experience in schools that placed faculty, family, and student dignity above all else was reassuring. Students came to us without expecting that this was ever likely to be found in schools; families who had similar experiences at being disregarded, patronized, talked down to, and shut out of their children's school lives responded when schools changed, too. Not immediately, but over time.

The same is true for the adults who work in a school—from custodians to secretaries to paraprofessionals and teachers. And principals.

I came into teaching in the early 1960s as a substitute teacher in South Side Chicago's K-8 schools. Then I became a kindergarten teacher—a position I held for many years. From the very moment I began the journey I was struck by the ways in which I was disrespected, as though that was the norm."
One of the points of educational Sloyd that was shared by many advocates of manual training was that developing a sense of the dignity and respect for all labor was crucial to the development of democracy. We seem to have abandoned that. Children of non-academic intelligences find little acknowledgment of their value within schools. An academic hierarchy puts American education in desperate condition.

Today in the Clear Spring School wood shop, the 4th, 5th and 6th grade students worked on their looms and some finished their hand made travel journals. The 10th, 11th and 12th grade students turned wood on the lathe and helped sand and finish the wood samples for the school collection. Make, fix and create.

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