Magazine article Technology & Learning

Securing Our Schools by Building a Culture of Trust

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Securing Our Schools by Building a Culture of Trust

Article excerpt

Instead of discussing where to hide from heavily armed, disgruntled students, we need to focus on creating the conditions for a peaceful, concerned and responsible student body.

Springtime generally conjures up images of flowers, sunshine, and, for school administrators, state testing, final projects, and gearing up for graduation. But recent springs have brought mayhem and death to our nation's high schools. Springfield, Oregon, where a 15-year-old was charged with shooting 24 of his schoolmates, was a prelude for the deaths of 15 youths at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Our thoughts turned from flowers to metal detectors, see-through backpacks, and more police. Instead of planning for staff development, many schools turned to disaster and emergency drills with local SWAT teams, and learned how to disarm students or run for coven

Even before the violence started escalating, many communities had come to view high schools as places to avoid. The description of a typical high school as a place with vandalism, graffiti, trash, and possible violence did not come about because students are socio-paths, but because schools have become disconnected from their neighborhoods and failed to create stable communities within their walls.

Rebuilding Trust

So how do we create a stable, trusting community for high school students? Some key elements of such a community:

1) It uses modern tools and approaches. The students of today are too often being educated in a manner suited best for an industrial society. There is a tremendous disconnect between the cyberworld they experience outside of school and the classrooms they sit in, with chalkboards, bells and loudspeakers bellowing commands. Students need coursework that relates to the real world, and encourages them to problem solve together and think creatively.

2) Education takes place in a small, personal environment. The high school reform movement advocates small, intimate learning environments. In communities where a small public high school is an impossibility, it is important to consider schools-within-schools, cluster academies, or other configurations to change the high school experience into a more humane and relevant one.

3) Community relationships and partnerships are central. …

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