Thank you for sharing those reflections – and welcome to the blog team!
As some readers will know, earlier in the year Theodore organized a sold-out screening of the documentary film Beyond Measure. To dig a little deeper into the discussions that emerged from that screening, and continue building fellowship and community among the educators, parents, and community members who turned out for it, I led a short series of Skype discussions based around the accompanying Beyond Measure book.
The film and book explore many of the issues affecting our education system, through the stories of individual students, parents, educators, and administrators seeking to disrupt and change the system which results in – to quote the book’s memorable subtitle – an overscheduled, overtested, underestimated generation. From homework to school timetables, college admissions to testing, the case studies and real-world examples explore many of the current norms and underlying assumptions which our education system makes – and which are so often accepted without question.
Pritpal, you titled your blog post Embracing Diversity. The final chapter of the book, entitled First, Be Well, argues for the necessity of supporting and promoting children’s total well-being. The author expresses this as a question: do you feel seen and loved for the person you are at your core? That seems to me to be a pretty succinct and compelling definition of what it means to embrace diversity! As educators, parents, and community members, we have a responsibility to promote learning environments in which all learners feel seen and loved for the person they are at their core. What that looks like in practice, of course, is another question…
The chapter explores the importance of fostering and nurturing resilience in students, meaning they have both adequate support and sufficient learning experiences that give them the skills to cope with life’s challenges and to be able to reset their mood once a stressful event has passed. A young person’s capacity to access their resilience often hinges on three main supports from the adults around them, which are caring relationships, opportunities to contribute and participate, and high expectations that are not about the end product but about the qualities that ultimately sustain learning and growth, such as effort. I wonder what examples others might share from their experience of what that might look like in a classroom and across the culture of a school?
The author ends with a caution. Equipping students for resilience is good medicine, but we must still cure the societal sickness. As practices that help to teach children how to maintain positive health become more widely accepted, such as mindfulness and social and emotional learning, I wonder how we can try to shift the focus onto the societal sickness that makes maintaining positive health such a struggle in the first place?