CARE IN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS (Mike Gallagher)
Thanks to everyone who came and contributed to this session. I really enjoyed it.
Below are a few notes from the flip-chart record of the last pasrt of the session. My own reflections are in sqaure brackets. Please feel free to add, edit and question.
Question: How can we make educational institutions more caring?
By promoting listening - listening with understanding, empathy. Perhaps we should work at learning to listen (one participant spoke of the value of a short counselling course he had attended focussed on listening skills). [Teachers often complain that pupils don't listen to them, while pupils complain that teachers don't listen to them. This suggests that something is wrong somewhere...]
We discussed personal care versus caring for people in general. Some claimed that they care for their pupils even though they don't know them all personally. Someone pointed out that knowing people means that you can control them - so knowledge often isn't used for care; you don't need to know to care.
By doing things together, based on a shared interest, outside of the curriculum/school system. One participant spoke positively of going on a bike ride with his teachers as a kind of shared escape from school.
What does care lead to? If care becomes systematised - if "we must all care for each other" becomes a rule - then caring becomes about compliance, about wearing a 'caring face'. This compliance with care can stifle critique - which is important to unmask the school and look behind its caring face.
We spoke about the relationship between schools and stability in society. Crticism creates instability, schools try to create stability [but do they succeed?].
Maybe those of us who work in educational institutions could make them more caring by doing more of what we want to do and less of what we have to do. But how far is this possible within the confines of the system?
We should reintroduce creative thinking as a valuable activity for teachers.
We discussed the value of mentoring/peer support. Some were very cynical about such things, others reported positive experiences. Is mentoring about care, or about disciplining people?