Of Note: Bully Pulpit

    Statistically Speaking by Alan McEvoy and Molly Smith
    Teaching Tolerance, Issue 58, Spring 2018, January 26, 2018

    Schools commonly institute structures for addressing student-on-student bullying, but there is little attention paid to teachers who bully students. Existing research on the problem is limited; it is not clear how frequently teachers bully students, what bullying behavior encompasses, how colleagues or administrators respond to bullying, or how teacher bullying impacts school climate. To examine these questions, Alan McEvoy and Molly Smith of Northwestern University worked with Teaching Tolerance to conduct a survey of educators. They found that bullying behavior included unnecessary and extreme embarrassment of students, emotional outbursts, or public claims of student incompetence. Though teachers who bully are common in most schools, they typically comprise a small percentage of most staffs. Their behavior not only undermines the safe environment needed for student growth, but also negatively impacts school mission, school climate, and the morale of colleagues. Targets of teacher bullying typically include: low-achieving students, students with behavioral disorders or attendance problems, students of color, and members of nondominant groups (neurodiverse students, LGBT students, or English language learners). To prevent teacher bullying and to empower educators to address bullying in colleagues, the authors recommend that schools implement policies around teacher conduct and targeted professional development to bolster professional codes of ethics.

    Submitted By Chris C. Chun, Black Pine Circle School, Berkeley, CA


    17 Minutes and What Next?

    Student Walkout Taps Well of Anger, Mourning Over Gun Violence by Mark Walsh
    Education Week, March 14, 2018

    How will the success of student activism change what happens in your classroom and in your school? This article summarizes the events of March 14th, which may be the catalyst for a sea of change in student activism. Tens of thousands of students walked out of their classrooms at 10:00 a.m. Eastern time in a display of civic activism to mark the shooting last month that killed 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. Reporters claimed that the demonstrations were unprecedented in recent American history at the K-12 level, a realization of the power and influence of young people attuned to social media. Some events were solemn remembrances of lives lost. Others were politically-charged demonstrations where students demanded stricter gun control, action from politicians, repercussions for those who failed to take action, and opposition to sitting in classes with armed teachers. Commercial broadcast networks suspended regular programs with special reports and some cable channels went dark for 17 minutes. In Washington, hundreds of protesting students gathered outside the White House, sat with their backs turned for 17 minutes, and then marched to the U.S. Capitol where they met with Democratic leaders and members of Congress. The immediacy of the march required quick action in many schools, but the implications may have lasting influence. For now, the event and the actions leading up to it provide ample material for meaningful discourse on civic action and the democratic process of political change.

    Submitted By Pearl Rock Kane, Klingenstein Center, New York, NY


    A Magazine Finds Its True North

    National Geographic: The Race Issue
    National Geographic, April 1, 2018

    The April 2018 issue of National Geographic is solely dedicated to the issue of race, and the new editor-in-chief, Susan Goldberg, has taken the bold and much needed step to fully acknowledge and study the magazine’s own history of perpetuating racial bias since its inception in 1888. Goldberg’s letter from the editor talks openly and courageously about why the magazine needed to undertake research into the ways their staff depicted the nonwhite people of the world and to face the ways in which its readers’ bigotry was reinforced by photos of, for example, Africans depicted as happy hunters and noble savages. She speaks to the ease with which images of human nakedness distinguished the colonized from the colonizer and the harm done in those instances. The issue also includes fascinating articles that explode constructs we have held historically about the biological and genetic basis for race; discusses the varied ways that racial inequality plays into lifelong struggles for people of color in health, education, homeownership, and the like; and talks about the changing demographics and rates of intermarriage in the United States. This compelling collection of articles will be helpful to any director of inclusion and diversity or teacher who integrates issues of race into curriculum. Most important, however, is the model Goldberg provides of a traditional and well-respected magazine facing its own racist past openly, fully, and bravely, while also providing a path forward to more fair-minded and inclusive reporting standards and choices as the magazine moves into the future.

    Submitted By Stephanie Lipkowitz, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM


    A Shift Worth Making

    Is There a Smarter Way to Think About Sexual Assault on Campus? by Jia Tolentino
    The New Yorker, February 12, 2018


    What do Schools Teach About Sexual Harassment? by Stephen Sawchuck
    Education Week, January 26, 2018

    At Columbia University, Jennifer Hirsch and Claude Ann Mellins (professors in anthropology and clinical psychology respectively) are studying sexual assault socio-ecologically: as a matter of how people act within a particular environment. Their extensive project is called SHIFT (Sexual Health Initiative to Foster Transformation), and through it they are looking to “transform how people think about the problem” and “nudge students toward responsible behavior on a collective scale.” Hirsch and Mellins believe that small changes to college culture could change how students interact, revealing a new holistic approach to sexual assault wherein it is “possible to protect potential victims and potential perpetrators simultaneously.” Conducting participant observations, one-on-one interviews, and a far-reaching survey about college life, Hirsch and Mellins have revealed that sexual assault is often portrayed as “lurid and dark and complex,” while experiences are often “obvious and ordinary”— one of many complexities surrounding this problem. SHIFT invites an emphasis on teaching sexual citizenship, along with measures to create a less stressful, less hard-drinking, more respectful environment on college campuses. As K-12 educators, we have also found ourselves called to investigate longstanding curricula and pedagogies related to sexual education and health. Steven Sawchuck’s “What do Schools Teach About Sexual Harassment” taps teachers to be the proverbial frontline in educating future generations about consent, healthy relationships, and how to prevent sexual violence. Sawchuck cites #teachthem, a campaign from the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. It is aimed at catalyzing state governments to fund and support comprehensive sex education, underlining the responsibility teachers have to address the difficult issues impacting their students and society at-large. Hopefully, as projects like SHIFT transform college campuses for the better, K-12 educators can help prepare students to engage in safe, healthy relationships throughout their lives.

    Submitted By Jessica Flaxman, Nashoba Brooks School, Concord, MA and Meghan Tally, Windward School, Los Angeles, CA


    A Perfect Takedown

    Perfectionism Is Increasing Over Time: A Meta-Analysis of Birth Cohort Differences From 1989 to 2016 by Thomas Curran and Andrew P. Hill
    Psychological Bulletin, American Psychological Association, December 28, 2017

    Studies of perfectionism usually seek to inform educators of the impacts, good and bad, of students’ drive for the perfect. But this study is the first to look at trends over time, seeking to shed light on what is causing the rise in perfectionism, and what that increase means for our students. The results of this analysis of college students in Canada, Britain, and the U.S. show that young people, who as a cohort are already facing tougher social and economic conditions than their parents, are shouldering a burden of competitiveness brought on under the auspices of meritocracy, but also by the watchful eye of increasingly demanding parents. For any educator familiar with demanding parents in the school family population, this is an interesting piece of research. The authors posit that "increasing perfectionism may be because, generally, American, Canadian, and British cultures have become more individualistic, materialistic, and socially antagonistic over this period, with young people now facing more competitive environments, more unrealistic expectations, and more anxious and controlling parents than generations before." Socially-prescribed perfectionism had the highest rate of increase over time, and it has acute relevance to psychopathology, including anxiety. This study offers clear data on a source of parental and societal student pressures that leaves school leaders and well-meaning parents to face an old question in new, honest, and urgent ways:  Is the perfect the enemy of the good?

    Submitted By Elizabeth Morley, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario


    Intent vs. Impact

    A Wisconsin School’s Privilege Controversy Shows How “Diversity” Fails Us by Rachelle Hampton
    Slate, March 14, 2018

    To highlight the limits of promoting “diversity” within schools, this article uses a recent news story about a decision by a public school district in rural Wisconsin to limit “discussions about social privilege.” The author then calls for a more robust, more expansive discussion of inclusivity and privilege to replace the restrictive, amorphous concept of “diversity.” Although the incident in question is unfolding in a public school, similar stories have emerged across the education landscape, and the activities that were criticized by the parents are common in independent schools. Hampton's analysis can help independent schools both better imagine their inclusivity and awareness efforts and strategize for parent push-back on “diversity” programming. In making their decision, the Wisconsin school district leaders referred to the need to be “prudent and mindful of the context in which we live and work;" this same context applies to independent schools, that, in the current moment, need to be better prepared to explain and defend programming around white privilege, classism, and social justice. Hampton's critique of "diversity" as a concept – that it allows us “to feel complacent with our good intentions rather than pushing us to actually work to correct real injustice in the world” – should also inspire independent school educators to continue working towards more robust, better-conceived inclusivity programming.

    Submitted By Jonathan Gold, Moses Brown School, Providence, RI


    What We Do, We Do Together

    The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle
    Random House, January 30, 2018

    Fascinated by an interaction between a six-year-old girl and a tennis coach at a Russian tennis academy (which has produced more champions than the entire United States), Daniel Coyle began to ask some simple questions: Where does great culture come from? How do you build and sustain it in your group, or strengthen a culture that needs fixing? Infiltrating some of the most effective organizations to uncover what makes them tick, Coyle found very clear, simple signals about connection, about sharing risk, and about direction. Particularly relevant in our schools, where human connections are at the heart of all student development, this book offers practical applications for leaders and teachers, offering suggestions for building a sustainable and equitable ethos. From in situ discoveries in inner city schools, the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team Six, Pixar, Google, and IDEO, among others, Coyle shares stories that highlight how leaders and team members in these organizations strengthen cohesion and maintain motivation, drive learning, ignite collaboration, reaffirm trust, and facilitate positive change –  all necessary to successfully overcome challenges that can trouble today’s schools. He reveals that cultures are expressions of relationships working towards a common mission; culture is not what groups are defined by, but what they collectively do.

    Submitted By Naheeda Karmali, Ed.M Candidate, The Klingenstein Center, New York, NY


    About and For

    Against Empathy: the Case for Rational Compassion by Paul Bloom
    Ecco, December 6, 2016

    Empathy seems to be an ultimate and unlimited good. That is, we can never have enough. If only we “walked in others’ shoes” all the time – if only we worked to feel others’ pain – then those glimpses into their lives would spur on greater selflessness, thus making the world a better place. Paul Bloom provocatively disagrees. In Against Empathy, the Yale professor describes the pitfalls of empathy as a moral anchor. He argues, with abundant research, that empathy is biased, leading us to favor those most like ourselves. Since empathy is predominantly a feeling, it is not especially attuned to helping us reason critically. In fact, it is statistically illiterate; empathy hampers our ability to make both rational and ethical choices and is therefore dangerous for policy-making. In addition, relying too heavily on empathic feeling leaves the empathizer drained, and consequently, less generous. Bloom is not heartless. Instead, he argues that we should employ compassion. Rather than thinking with people, as empathy does, we should think about and for others, which is compassion. Many independent schools’ missions aim to develop character, critical thinking, and leadership. Understanding the potential risks of over-teaching – and over-practicing – empathy, and considering better means to developing servant-leaders, makes Bloom’s book essential reading.

    Submitted By John Rogers, Culver Academies, Culver, IN


    Setting the Table

    The Art of Community, Seven Principles for Belonging by Charles Vogl
    Berret-Koehler, August 22, 2016

    In The Art of Community, Seven Principles for Belonging, author Charles Vogl draws upon his experiences as a documentary filmmaker, peace corps volunteer, and theologian to explain and explore seven principles for developing community. Vogl’s personal experiences of feeling isolated and alone led him to work on understanding, and then creating, community. Seminal to this work was a feeling of extreme loneliness that he experienced as a divinity student at Yale, which had a brand that “loomed so large” that he and other students “thought that they could never be good enough to truly belong there.” To counteract this feeling, Vogle opened up his home to a weekly dinner for all those who cared to attend, and he was struck by how such a seemingly simple act of gathering around a meal could create the community he craved. Aside from Vogl’s personal narrative, The Art of Community provides both contemporary and historical perspectives on these principles and how they may be put into practice. While many, if not all, of them are often in evidence at most independent schools, a deeper understanding of their origin and application provides significant suggestions for creating, strengthening, or nurturing community in our schools’ cultures.

    Submitted By Christopher Lauricella, The Park School of Buffalo, Buffalo NY

KlingensteinCenter Teachers College Columbia University

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