Re: school climate

Julian Weissglass (
Wed, 7 Jan 1998 14:29:42 -0800

Changing policy to eliminate sexual harrassment, racism, etc., is only part
of the solution. Policies can be helpful as a direction for pointing the
way, but schools have to pay attention to people's hearts and emotions.

Processes must be put in place that enable people to "be listened to" about
how they developed their values and prejudices and to heal from the hurts
so they can change their practices that result from growing up in an
oppressive society. All too often schools resort to formulating polices or
meting out punishment without addressing the source of the problem. In
general schools do not very often pay attention to the hurtful things boys
do to each other also -- unless they become violent.

I am not excusing harrassment or other oppressive acts. But it is important
to remember that people aren't born harrassers sexists or racists. Schools
can and must take greateer responsibility for helping students (and
educators) heal so that changes in behavior are grounded in caring and
understanding, rather than fear of punishment.

I outline a program for that in "Ripples of Hope: Building Relationships
for Educational Change", which is based on the approach of Reevaluation
Counseling. Someone who actually used these approaches in working with
students is Netta Cartwright. An article describing her work appeared in
either the Journal for a Just and Caring Education or People and Education.
I will send the exact reference next week when I find it.

Julian Weissglass
Director, Equity in Mathematics Education Leadership Institute
University of California, Santa Barbara, Ca 93106

Phone: 805-893-7046
Fax: 805-893-2190

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