I engaged in some stimulating non-education reading over the break and thought I’d start 2024 with a book recommendation for you, particularly if your school is becoming a restorative one.
“Humankind – A Hopeful History” is by a fascinating author and historian by the name of Rutger Bregman. It captivated me.
That said, I just couldn’t stop seeing Bregman’s points through anything other than my educator lens, particularly those he makes about how humans have evolved across the centuries.
I finished the book with a couple of key conclusions:
- That “old school” approaches to managing people (especially students) based on rules and consequences aren’t, in fact, so old at all. In fact, they date only as far back as modern civilization where schools were established to serve the emerging Industrial Revolution. In other words, the modern template for the way we build schools was targeted at economic gain and not because it was good for the people, the kids or our community’s wellbeing.
- That, if you’re rejecting a crime and punishment model and dodging the exhaustion inherent in programs and behaviour curriculums that don’t match the way people are made … then you’re right. You’re totally on the money. Your hunch that a restorative approach is better inclined with the way your human staff are wired and the ways your students engage as young humans was spot on.
I get that the challenges around student behaviour and stakeholder conduct in your school might be significant and also worsening. I also understand that the associated fear can trick us into ‘cracking down’ on badly behaved young people or ‘stamping out’ negative behavioural trends.
That should be a warning that the industrially inspired schooling model has run its race. It should be the signal that the first step to take for long-term success is to align your school’s culture with our innate humanity. Real people just respond better to positivity, compassion and optimism than they do to being punished or injured by authority figures.
It’s about believing that our staff and our kids are mostly good people instead of obsessing over their equally innate shortcomings.
2024 is the year for your school and your classroom to get more human and less industrial. I suspect you’ve had a hunch about that before too.
Keep fighting that good fight,
PS. One thing we’ve done to give your school a humanness head start is make my book ‘Restoring Teaching’ free to all educators. If you haven’t yet, grab a copy here and just fork out for the postage.
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