At this morning’s Family Association meeting, which was our annual “sign up to volunteer” event, I had the opportunity to make a short presentation, and I chose to read the following passage from this fine 2009 book by Richard Weissbourd, a Harvard psychologist. At the meeting I was asked by several parents if I could make the quote and book information more available. (Click on the image to see more about the book).
My children attended a public elementary school that brought both parents and children into a kind of moral community. Interactions with teachers, school events, posters on walls, and communications from our principal worked to connect parents both to one another and to the school.
The communications expressed a set of moral commitments– that both parents and children are members of a community and have responsibility for all members of that community; that every student has intellectual and personal contributions to make to the learning of the whole community and that the school has responsibilities to recognize and support those contributions; that school is preparation not only for a career but for many facets of citizenship; that diversity is a high value and that diverse opinions will be engaged and tested; that students should be taught to identify and address social inequalities and injustice.
Often homework was connected to issues of equity and fairness, and sometimes children were asked to engage parents in this homework.
Teachers felt responsibility for all children in the building– not just children in their classroom.
Because there are trusting, caring relationships between teachers and students at this school, children are also more likely to value what teachers value, including classic virtues such as honesty and courage. At the same time, as the principal observes “Many parents challenge the larger community to believe in and value each of our students and families. This initiative by families reinforces and sometimes leads the school to live up to its values.”
If there is interest, we may try to start and facilitate a book discussion group in the Family Association about this book. St. Gregory parents should let me know if they are interested, either by conversation “on the curb,” email, or by leaving a comment below.