Academic journal article Middle School Journal

Creating a Culture of Respect through the Implicit Curriculum

Academic journal article Middle School Journal

Creating a Culture of Respect through the Implicit Curriculum

Article excerpt

This We Believe characteristics:

* Organizational structures foster purposeful learning and meaningful relationships

* The school environment is inviting, safe, inclusive, and supportive of all

* Every student ' s academic and personal development is guided by an adult advocate

* Health and wellness are supported in curricula, school-wide programs, and related policies

* The school actively involves families in the education of their children

"I'm too fat."

"I don't like the way she looked at me at lunch."

" I can ' t do math. "

"I don't belong in that group."

"Why can't you trust me?"

To middle school educators, these voices are familiar in the middle school environment. Middle schoolers are trying to belong, to feel connected with their peers, and they are trying to figure out who they are, who they want to be. It is a tumultuous period emotionally and socially. And as educators who were once middle schoolers, we can relate painfully to our own experiences at the dawn of our adolescence.

In the midst of the rollercoaster ride of middle school, how do we as educators create cultural respect that is nurtured from the intrinsic space of our middle schoolers, in other words, an authentic respect of self and others? Goodlad (1997) wrote that placing "moral" as an adjective of education-moral education-is limiting because "All education is moral" (p. 11). Similarly, this article focuses on the broader context of creating a respectful culture for everyone-all education should be respectful.

How does one traverse the drama-filled terrain of "I hate myself" and "I don't belong" to create a culture of respect where students and adults alike respect themselves and others? One answer to this question began for me in 1973 when I started my first teaching position in Hawaii at a small Catholic school where Sr. Joan Madden collaborated with an Adlerian psychologist, Dr. Raymond Corsini, to create a program now called the Hòala Educational Philosophy. Hòala (pronounced Hoe AH lah) is Hawaiian for "awakening of the self." Creating a culture of respect begins within individuals and then manifests in their behaviors. Hòala is a system approach to organizing a school ' s implicit or hidden curriculum. It is a way of actualizing the tenets of This We Believe of the Association for Middle Level Education in a school-wide response to nurturing the whole person, especially the social and emotional skills necessary for healthy maturation into adulthood. This systemic response has a "triple focus"- the focus on the self (self-awareness and sense of purpose), focus on the other (empathy and effective relationships), and focus on understanding one's place and impact on the larger context, the interconnected/interdependent world (Goleman & Senge, 2014, p. 9). The process is about nurturing the internal capacity to be and feel respectful of oneself, which is more likely to result in respect of others. Hòala nurtures this culture of respect for all in two arenas:

1. Building the internal capacity of students through fulfilling their social and emotional needs for a sense of belonging and connection and the need for a sense of self or identity.

2. Modeling the respect that we want in our students.

Fulfilling the needs of students for a sense of belonging and sense of self

Teaching self-respect and respect of others are not taught effectively from lectures or class discussion or reading novels. These are all supporting strategies to the real work that educators do when they focus on fulfilling students' needs for belonging and identity. It is essential to begin with the nature of young adolescents, the first essential attribute of This We Believe. "Who am I?" and "How do I connect with others?" are critical questions for middle schoolers. Behaviors like posturing to belong and trying various personas in an effort to find oneself are evidence of the ongoing ping-pong match between trying to fitin and trying to find their unique selves. …

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