You’re not to blame

“While all of us dread being blamed, we all would wish to be more responsible – that is, to have the ability to respond with awareness to the circumstances of our lives rather than just reacting.” – Gabor Mate

We have TWO core school rules. I call them rules, rather than a mission or value statement, only because I want children to see rules as helpful and empowering.

When we started almost a decade ago, I famously added nothing that was school-like other than the children and some stationery. This was intentional. I wanted to only include what serviced the development of the child. Not a clone that had to be stripped of its superfluous bits, but rather a lump of clay that could be anything it wanted to be.

Our first school rule, is respect. The teachers are asked to respect the students and their learning before they can ask for it back. Role modelling is highly important to us ad children are taught how to respect their work, their thinking, their mistakes- well, everything that has meaning to them.

Our second school rule, not an inferior one, just another rule is choice and consequences. Put another way, responsibility.

This is an important ‘rule’ because it has so much depth of learning to it, but also it is so simple. We don’t have a punishment or reward system, we have an accountability system. We teach children how to take accountability for their learning, how to take accountability for overcoming their learning challenges.

“There is no true responsibility without awareness.” – Gabor Mate

So to teach children how to be responsible, we must start with helping them to become aware of who they are, how they think, what choices they have and what they are going to do with all of this.

We cannot change something that we are not first aware of.

It isn’t as simple as it sounds, of course. We cannot ask a child to be aware of something that is beyond his comprehension. Nor can we ask them to become more aware of some difficulty they have until they have a stronger sense of their own worth.

Teachers have to earn the right to create awareness for the child. Not from me or from parents, but from the child. Teachers must first respect the child before they can ask something like this of them. Awareness is hard to do.

It takes guts to look at ourselves and see something that we don’t like, and then find a way to change that. From awareness comes acknowledgment and then acceptance and then change.

It takes so much guts in fact, that we must respect the child for being willing to show us what they are struggling with. And to do the bravest thing that anyone can do, ask for help.

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Lauren Edmunds

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