Creating Cultures of Dignity | Rosalind Wiseman | RSA Replay

Creating Cultures of Dignity | Rosalind Wiseman | RSA Replay

you know everybody and welcome to the RSA my name is Laura partridge I'm a senior researcher here in the education team and it's my great pleasure to welcome you to today's special events just a quick note before we begin could I ask you to make for that make sure that your phones are switched to silent that was a bit of a tongue twister and we're filming today's event and so welcome to those of you who are joining us online and remind us everybody that you can join the discussion on twitter the hashtag today is RSA dignity if you want to get involved I do hope that you will share your thoughts and views with us today the types of issues that we're covering are at the heart of much of the work that the RSA is doing today work on everything from mental health in schools to mission led schooling and so we'd really love to hear some of your thoughts and as we're navigating the social challenges that young people face as they go through school and your perspective might be as a parents a carer a teacher or a student we welcome all of those views it's a offer of expert guidance through these challenges today we're delighted to welcome our keynote speech speaker Rosalind Wiseman she's an educator and an author who for many years has been dedicated to a single goal to help communities shift the way that they think about young people's emotional well-being Rosalind is a founder of the organization cultures of dignity she's the author of the curriculum owning up empowering adolescents to confront social cruelty bullying and injustice and a multiple New York Times bestselling author whose titles include queen bees and wannabes that's the book that was the basis for the hit movie Mean Girls as a leading thinker on teen culture bullying ethical leadership and the use of social media Rosalind is in constant dialogue and collaboration with educators parents children and teenagers she joins us today to share some of her latest thinking on the kinds of community cultures that we all need to play a role in building if we are to help our young people recognize their own innate dignity and self-worth and recognize that of others too the format for today's session is that Rosalind is going to speak for around 20 minutes and afterwards I'm going to take advantage of my position as chair to ask her a few follow-up questions and then we're going to open up for all of your questions and there's a lot to get through so without further adieu let's starter please join me in giving a warm welcome to Rosalind hello I'm Rosalyn Wiseman and thank you for being here I am a leading expert on social and emotional learning and on teenagers on adolescence and I never actually know if I'm doing my work right as a thought leader as a parent as a teacher I am constantly asking myself these questions what did young people learn for me today not just the content of what I taught but the actual how did I how did I interact with them did I show that I cared did I hold them accountable in the right way did I show them that their experiences matter did I use words that mean something to them or did I blow them off these are the questions that I am constantly asking myself and I love working with young people I have been working with people between the ages of 10 to 18 for my entire career I love working with young people but it can be so incredibly hard so this year because I believe so strongly that the only way that I have the right to speak to people like you is if I'm actually in schools on a day to day basis so I go to school and this year I started working at the group of seventh graders so there's 13 12 13 14 years old and from the moment that I walked into this school it was a disaster like truly a disaster they were rude to me they were rude to each other within moments I actually started it took me about five minutes before I actually looked at them and thought I intensely dislike every one of you every one of you I was like you're just horrible people and I loved working with teenagers and then one of them a boy raised his hand and he said why are you here and it was not a question and I thought to myself why am I here frankly you should be giving me some kind of respect for the fact that I am walking through the door right now as your teacher and I am willing to be with you people but why was I think why was I there and then I thought why do I have to prove myself to you and then I thought again why was I there well the reason I was there and the reason that I am here is because we have completely lost a meaningful definition of respect it's hurting all of us and it is particularly hurting the our interactions with young people and so it happens is that adults are clinging to this word and young people are skeptical at best and sometimes openly defiant as was the case with my seventh graders so I'm gonna ask you all a question how many of you all were raised to respect your elders can you raise your hands okay like all of us it is a cultural value that actually crosses cultures with ethnicities religion where you come from we were raised to respect our elders now I want you to think about adult that when you were growing up who was somebody that you respected so I really want you to think about this who was an adult that you respected now if you have this person in mind I bet you that that person was somebody who not necessarily was successful but somebody who actually treated others with dignity so when you ask people as I do when you ask young people as I do what first comes to their mind when you say the word dignity they actually don't know when you ask them what comes to their mind when you ask them about the word respect here are some of the ones that they say to me most often respect is supposed to be earned but it's usually imposed someone who has power over me I have to obey them no matter how they treat me if they don't respect me then I don't have to respect that and that last one tends to make adults really angry but what makes young people really angry is being asked to respect someone when we really really mean is to obey them no matter how much the / how the person treats other people so of best it creates disengagement in school and at worst it creates rage so the question is why does respect mean such different things to you adults and young people why does it seem that we've lost a sense of base or basic respect for each other how do we get it back why don't we use the word dignity more often and all of these questions are things that I will answer today so you know this picture you know this cliche it takes a village to raise a child and it does take a village to raise a child but let's be clear also that the village is your school where children go to school where you work your community where you have recreation this is your village in all different kinds of ways but the village only works for young people when we have sane mature adults in the village and the village can be really messy we are having some really serious challenges in the village because we have collectively begun to believe the following if you confront people to their face when you're angry with the problem the situation will get worse but you can confront them on social media and make snarky comments on your social on your favorite social media platform that is something that we have begun to believe about our village you can never tell other people's children when they are wrong because it will get worse whatever it is it will get worse you have no right to be able to talk to other people's children when they're doing something wrong you can't make mistakes and if you do people are going to assume the worst about you your attention to your competencies parenting is all it's become in the village a constant comparison of yourself and your children and you feel like you're losing out to other people in our village we often believe also that our right to express ourselves again usually on social media in an anonymous way is more important than our right to treat others with consideration and you have to show respect that you to people that you actually really don't like specifically because of the way that they treat people now our children know all of this they might have a hard time putting it to words but they know all of this and make no mistake I think we would all agree that we need young people in our villages who want to be part of our village so they can grow up and like take care of us when we are old right we need competent connected young people to take care of us so the village is really important and we've got to be able to fix with these young people we've got to be able to fix our local village and our global village so we need them so of course some of these these issues have always been around right there our people have been comparing their children forever so some of these things are evergreen but there are some things that have gotten a little different that I want to highlight so since 2000 2007 when smartphones came out we have not only been fed videos of cute cats so our social media is constantly showing people showing us entertainment by embarassment of other people that is one thing that it is consistently doing for us and for our children it is convincing us that we are never enough never enough and there our children are never enough and there's constant feeling of losing out and there's an invisible audience that is watching and commenting and judging us parenting has been incredibly impacted by this so I don't know if you've noticed this but parents who you know have children are constantly putting up their images about children on their Facebook pages or on their Instagram accounts and it's all about its if everybody is constantly getting along you would think that everybody every family who's on any kind of social media is doing awesomely they are really they've got the money to go on vacations they're always getting along really well and I don't know about you off the last time I went on a family vacation with my two children I have 15 and 18 year old people in my house the last time I went on a vacation I don't know I thought it was a huge success that I only wanted to kill my always on my oldest child once during the entire vacation the year before was actually not so good but you would think that everybody's getting along and children are constantly succeeding at everything and that is making it really difficult to for kids because parents are saying these things to their children why aren't you doing this I saw this on somebody else's Facebook page so the other thing that I think can be really funny and amazing to me is when parents actually quote from their children have actual conversations of their children on their social media as if what they've said is incredibly brilliant so and they are is there one last thing is that there was a study done in the UK that by the time a child was 2 years of age parents were posting over a thousand pictures of their children our children are not that interesting they might be interesting to us but they are not that interesting to everybody else so it is making us insane insecure and narcissistic this is not good for our village and at the same time social media is also showing us in real time consistent experiences of people abusing power in small ways and large ways but we can't just blame social media we really can't we have a crisis of adult bad role modelling in our real lives and of course not all adults are bad role models but we need to admit that there's enough of them that are out there in our children's real lives that it makes it seem like there are that we need to acknowledge the messiness of this village so I want you to think of it from a young person's perspective so we have coaches and parents who are ring Tantrums at games we have some administrators and teachers some who are dismissing of young people or are abusing power themselves and children can't do anything about it that not everybody but it is Sun and what I also know because we worked so much with teachers administrators anybody who works with young people is it the other part that's happening is that adults are seeing this happen parents are seeing this happen during competitive events coaches are these are good people teachers are seeing this down them walking down the hallway but they don't know what to do to address it they don't know what to do to stop it and when young people see adults not be able to do anything they do not feel empowered to do things themselves and yet one of the things that we say to young people especially in schools is if you see bullying if you see a problem go tell an adult but we don't acknowledge them Nestene Asst of what our young people see if we don't see it if we don't admit it then our children are not going to come to us we have no credibility so on top of this we also have a situation where if you work with young people if you work with young people you know that you are dealing with this generation with the most amount of anxiety and depression that any group of children has experienced we know this so I'm going to give you just very short statistics on this from the United States and the UK so in the United States that night the u.s. national survey on drug use and health this is a conservative group large study 56% more teens experienced a major depressive episode in 2015 than in 2010 46% more 15 to 19 year olds committed suicide in 2015 than in 2007 in the United Kingdom you also have a large national study and what they were looking at and what they reported is that while other quote-unquote disorders flatlines like ADHD and autism anxiety changed and increased so what we have in the UK is one in eight 15 to 19 year olds had an emotional disorder one in six by the time they were 17 19 had an emotional sorter and for girls there was a doubling of amount for emotional disorders between 17 and 19 and of these emotional disorders in the UK disproportionately by far the issue was anxiety so the village is getting sicker so all of this I have to say is hard to admit right it's the many of us feel like our villages and our worlds are falling apart and we don't know what to do about it I mean I've sometimes these sinking feelings of what can I do there's nothing to do but there is something to do there really really is and so the first part is we have to acknowledge the challenge to be honest about the challenge the second is what do we do concretely that makes this better the begins to repair our villages and builds our villages back again so I want to reiterate what are the stakes the stakes are anxiety and these stakes are young people not feeling that adults are credible so they can come to us for help and that's incredibly important so what do we do what do we do is we make it better so when I said in earlier that young people say I'm not gonna give you someone respect until I get respect from you I'm gonna reframe that for you so what I believe is that adults are misinterpreting this because my experiences is that adult that young people actually recognize that they don't necessarily want equal power that is just not my experience what my experience is that when young people say I'm not gonna give someone respect until I get respect that this is what they really mean number one that the adults recognize and know that their life is different for us than it is for young people for example we had privacy growing up they do not number two that we don't talk down to them that just because they don't pay bills does not mean that their lives aren't complicated that we in fact appreciate that their lives are complicated even if we might not know exactly what those complications are that when we see a young person coming to us that we know even if they're acting crazy that there must be a good reason not an excuse but there must be a good reason for what they're doing and if we can figure out what that good reason is we can figure out how to get them engaged for we have to listen to them without immediately giving them advice that is very difficult for adults because we go into fix-it mode and number five acknowledge the possibility that our young people have problems that are serious and because of their lack of power specifically because of their lack of power as a young person in our society that there is probably little that they can do about it so young people are standing in a storm that's what it feels like to them they need guidance they need reassurance that the adults in their lives are not only ethical but that they have the capacity and competency to be able to guide them through the complications of their lives they need us to be credible they need to see a point in their education and to know that the adults in charge of their education can handle the inevitable conflicts and struggles are going to happen and they're gonna guide young people through the process that's what we need because by the way when I ask teachers that question I asked you in the beginning who are the teachers that you who are the teachers the mentors that you respected teachers even really burnt out teachers speak about never do they speak about this person taught me math it's if the person taught the math it was they helped me and believed in me and got me through it is always about the relationship it is always about the adult believing that you can go through and go through a hard time and so yes of course academics are important but it is constantly the relationship of the adult that gives the young person faith that they can keep going so what if there was another way what if there is another way to see the words dignity and respect because that is what leads us out seeing these words makes things in a different way makes them more powerful so we can rebuild our village and I'm going to share with you some of the ways that I think that we are working on to be able to repair and rebuild the village in terms of young people's relationships with their parents with their teachers with administrators and with their overall communities so there are action steps that we can do and I'm going to share with you some of those tools so we have to start by getting really really clear about some words and those words are happiness respect and dignity so happiness is not just about avoiding conflict one of the things that sometimes parents say when you ask them what do you want for your child and some parents will say I just want my child to be happy what in the world do you mean by that what do you mean by that do you actually mean that you want your child to be able to get through life without any conflict that's impossible and if you believe that then you're setting your child up for being incompetent and handling any kind of conflict so that would decidedly make them unhappy so what does happiness mean the way I define happiness is this do you have a sense of purpose that you have curiosity the you of hope of success that you have meaningful social connection and that you have a place to process and find peace those are the things that make us happy conflict happens things are gonna go down things get messy if we have those things we can get through and that actually is a way for schools to think about how to get young people engaged how to make school come alive for them so that's the first thing is what is the definition of happiness that's actually substantive the second is how we talk about dignity and respect so respect means in Latin respect us to look back at you are looking at how someone has behaved how they have behaved what they have achieved respect has always meant that it is to be earned always respect is to be earned and contrast dignity comes from the Latin word of Dignitas which means to be worthy you just get it dignity is a given now the world might try and strip away people's dignity but dignity is something that cannot be taken away from you respect must be earned but these words are so incredibly conceptual and we don't often give enough seriousness to the word dignity and we conflate the word respect to mean both and what young people get really angry about is when for example they go to a teacher and they say this child's being really mean to me I'm going to excuse me a teacher will often say is for like little ones like 12 and under is you don't have to be friends with them but you have to treat them with respect but if you think about what I've been saying about how young people define respect which means to obey no matter how you are treated what that teacher without meaning to do so is coming across as if they're saying to that child you don't have to be friends but you have to accept the things that are happening to you if this other child keeps doing mean things to you you have to keep accepting it because you have to obey that's the way they're hearing it instead if you say you don't have to be friends with that child but you do have to treat them with dignity that's different because it means that it feels like you're not letting that other child get away with the bad behavior and that's what happens with all of us when we are in a situation where we have to show respect to someone that we actually don't respect it makes us angry and we disengage so these words are incredibly conceptual and remember I work with young people from the ages of like 10 to 18 and then I work with teachers so how do we get them to think about this in more concrete ways so we ask anybody that works with us teachers administrators students young people to draw these words and drawing makes them come alive so I'm gonna show you last Wednesday when I was working with a group of students I asked them to draw dignity and respect I'm going to show you an example of one of them so here we have Adolfo who is 11 drawing who he respects which is somebody who stops racism and makes peace for dignity Adolfo drew tree and a young person saying one day the tree has worth just for who it is for what it is one day it might grow to be a bigger tree but it has worse right the way it is and so to be able to separate these concepts for young people and for teachers incredibly powerful incredibly powerful now what else can we do because you know that these words need to be different in your heart now I'll give you an example also that's really hard for teachers so when I show this to teachers and the way we got here is because when working with teachers it felt like when we said respect has to be earned teachers felt like we were taking away their power and they got really upset and so what's important about that is is that when an adult says but that's not the way I was raised I was raised to respect my elders to give them the space to be able to say there's a difference between the respect and dignity and respect is earned dignity is a given but if we walk this path path with me your students your young people will join you in creating an environment of dignity teachers change but I want to be able to respect teachers experiences because it can be so hard so what does this look like well beyond the pictures that we have for students what does this look like when we're working with teachers what does this look like an education so I'm gonna give you two examples my two examples are this here are two fifth-grade boys they're they're 10 years old and we asked them what was teasing we just gave them the whole the concept of teasing but they got to come up with the words they got to come up with playful teasing and you'll notice if you can see it that the third bullet says you'll mama jokes because of you mama jokes can be playful teasing but they got to come up with a definition of it we didn't tell them what it was now I'm going to show you what we did for the overall class so they got to separate all the different kinds of teasing and so you'll notice that in playful teasing you're so dumb checkmark means that other kids related to it reciting a song saying you're ugly roast which is the United States going after people like being start being putting them down and people like go after each other broken ankles also is something you do where you're tripping you're not breaking ankles if anyone's wondering if people are breaking ankles that's not what this is breaking ankles and the teacher who did this actually was worried because she thought oh my gosh like they're actually breaking ankles is when you're playing basketball and you move a certain direction and the other person stumbles that's called breaking angles annoying t thing is starting to get to be bullying shut up you're ugly looking self looking at you wait yo mama jokes are an annoying they are an annoying category malicious malicious is also yo mama jokes and you're so done necking is when you get hit up in the head so let's be clear young people if they are going to engage in this kind of work have to be able to name it because they are the subject-matter experts we can provide the values and the framing and the credibility and the maturity of being there with that we can do that but they if we are going to talk to young people about their social and emotional learning they have to be recognized as the subject-matter experts that they actually are they have to decide what does dignity look like to me what does respect look like to me and then we go from there then we have young people that are engaged if we don't we have young people believe me that wherever I go in the world whenever we start talking about kindness and empathy and anything like that they think to themselves this is a very well-meaning person person and this has nothing to do with my life it's too simplistic and it's not relating to me I don't see the point and young people desperately need to see the point of their education and all of the different ways that they are being taught so this is how we use it in education like in the classroom now what also can we do to be able to make it come alive for young people so the next thing I'm going to show you is this what do we do when a young person comes to and they're complaining about the treatment of another person from another person I already said that instead of saying you don't have to be friends with them but you do have to treat them with dignity instead of respect but the thing that teachers often say well-meaning teachers well-meaning adults in our village is when a young person comes up to them and says this is happening to me I am being hurt by somebody the adults say something like just ignore it be the better person don't let them see that it bothers you by the time a young person goes to an adult and tells him something they have been thinking about how talking to that adult for a very long time so when we say just ignore it they've already been ignoring it and it hasn't been working so instead of saying that because that's not being respectful of their experiences we say instead something like I'm so sorry that happened thank you for trusting me to tell me and together we're gonna work this out it is simple it is clear and it is recognizing the leap of faith that the young person has to take to be able to talk to an adult next what if you get a child and an adult by the way because we have these experiences at work and all different kinds of ways of our village where you wouldn't you are in a position of authority you have said to people if you have a problem come talk to me don't wait but somebody has waited you're an administrator at a school and you've been saying these things to teachers and to parents and two children and a parent waited a child waited and it can be so understandable to be so frustrated that out of your mouth comes a very understandable response when you first hear about this problem which is why did you wait so long to tell me I could have done something about this before it is an understandable thing to say it is however disrespectful to the experience of that person because that person must have had a good reason for why they didn't say anything to you and that is a moment when people in positions of authority say why did you wait so long that is a moment of disconnect but we can make it better so instead of saying that you can say you must have had a really good reason to not tell me before when you are ready I would really like to know what that is because if you can figure out if you're in this position if you can figure out what the reason was if the child didn't come talk to you you can figure out how to solve the problem now it is possible because we were human beings that you would say something like why didn't you tell me before so you make a mistake it happens I make a mistake all the time with kids I made a mistake a month ago with a group of eighth-grade boys 14 year old boys that I walked away and thought that wasn't right because basically what I did was I was being sarcastic and I said something sort of just on the road just on that edge of not good sarcasm sarcasm doesn't have a lot of place in education anyway but I just you know right there I was on the edge and I walked away and had this feeling in my stomach of like that wasn't right I wasn't being the adult that I should have been so what do you do the way to repair the village is to make genuine apologies and for ethical leaders to show what apologies look like so what do you say so when I saw for example those boys a little while later was about a week later and I saw them and I actually saw them like walking on the sidewalk and I was in my car so I stopped my car so this is a little weird right like I put my window down and I backed up so I was like oh they're gonna think I'm crazy because I of course don't remember if you're outside of school they don't know who you are so I backed my car up and I was like hi and they were like who is that crazy lady and I said hi MS Wiseman remember I teach you social emotional learning remember that they're like oh yeah they came over and I was like hey I just want to say something really quick that thing I said to you last week that was wrong now did the boys admit that they knew exactly what I was saying in that moment no they looked at me like right it's a you know I just want to say that thing that I did was wrong I'm sorry and their whole faces it's changed and said hey no problem that's cool and then they left that interaction took about 20 seconds I did not have to have a very long conversation with them about restorative justice as important as that is I didn't have to have any of those things that was a moment of repair we're an adult in a position of authority says you know I did something wrong I thought about it I need to claim it and so then we went from a moment of disrepair and disconnection to repair and of course the next time I saw those kids in that class of course the neck what happened is they came up to me and said I it totally changes the dynamic so unfortunately what we have sometimes in schools is that if the person in a position of authority makes a mistake we don't think we can say anything about it because it shows weakness it actually shows strength and the last thing that I want to highlight for you all is about parents so in our villages there are two things that I want to highlight for parents number one I believe that everybody is your child you don't have the right to be screaming at children because when we scream they don't listen to us anyway right they really die but when our children do something wrong when they say when they for example are teasing somebody or using words that are putting somebody down because of where they come from or jokes of their religion or anything like that which by the way wherever I go children are doing is that you say you're on the playground you're in your car you're in your house you say that thing you just said specifically what that is not acceptable love you can't say those words you cannot use those words to put somebody down if they want to continue talking about it you can talk to them about it but we actually have to set values we must set values based on people's Worth and dignity and when those things are being taken away we speak because that is what adults do we cannot be surprised if children don't know how to speak in moments in adjusted we do not do it ourselves likewise if you are a parent or a person in your community and you see or hear other people talking about a child badly gossiping about a child in today's world it is about a child who maybe did something inappropriate online maybe they did even something sexually inappropriate online and you go to your your favorite social media platform and you hear people talk at you they're talking about it and they're talking about it just anonymously that you actually know who you're talking about but they haven't actually identified that person or you go out after the school into the playground and they're talking on into the parking lot and they're talking about it or on the bleachers of the game or in the hallways of a school or you're at dinner with somebody and they start talking badly about a child instead of being silent because silence is not a protest let's be clear silence is not a protest silence is condoning the bad words and the lack of dignity around you it is supporting the stripping of dignity of those children and that family to be silent so instead what do you say what you say is that must have been really hard for that family for that child what can we do to support them because in that moment you are saying to the adults in that room we got to stop and this matters and gossip matters and degrading people and denigrating people matters as an adult I am going to speak to this and I'm gonna do it in a way that holds all of us accountable so what can we do to support them these are the moments that seem small but in our world now in our villages that's what we need to be doing because that's what's meaningful to be silent in these moments looks like we are condoning the behavior so I want you to come back to me to my seventh grade class because this was about a month ago and a young man raised his hand and said why do you keep coming back when we are so obnoxious and my ass where and really they were like more they were they were less horrible than they had been in the in the very beginning they were like moderately terrible and so he raised his hand and says this and my answer to him was hey I'm a grown-up I'm keeping coming back here that's my job and we're gonna do this together and yeah you're being obnoxious you're being less obnoxious but like yeah it's hard but that's my job is to keep coming back so I'm sort of I'm asking the same thing of you so I'm asking you not to give up on your villages and I understand that there might be times that you want to I understand that this can be overwhelming but I really believe that this disrespect in the world can be changed so respect has to be earned dignity is absolutely not negotiable everyone has Worth and all of us can do our part to rebuild the villages and beyond these villages we must empower children with the skills to be able to speak to people in positions of power then when they mock and humiliate and abuse their power that they don't stand behind their position to get away with it we must must have our children have the skills to be able to face that that is probably the most important thing that we are all facing all facing wherever we come from is to give children those skills and we can do so by doing it in our villages in these very small moments because that is how it builds so I'm asking yourself to have challenging courageous conversations about dignity and respect because unless you do it unless you do it it's not going to happen but the thing that is so incredible to me and the thing that gives me the most hope is that if we acknowledge our messiness if we acknowledge the inconsistencies that young people deal with if we appreciate young people's experiences with dignity and respect if we do all of that then what happens is young people are right there with us and then what's amazing and really does give me hope is that we have really truly earned their respect in the right way and young people are more than willing to come to us and work with us to rebuild so thank you and I really look forward to your questions in our conversation [Applause] Rozlyn thank you so much that gives us a lot of food for thought and I was actually and it brought to my mind a visit to a school that I had just yesterday as part of a project we're doing here at the RSA that's looking at how you can reduce exclusions permanent expulsion of peoples from schools and the particular school that we visited believe that actually the main route to success was building really good relationships between students and teachers and that seems completely commonsensical and but their approach to doing it I think it was really fascinating so first thing Monday morning teachers sits in a circle with eight to ten students and all of the students share what they did over the course of the weekend and the teacher has a chance to pinpoint if there's anything that's gone wrong over the weekend that they might sort of need to intervene on before they go to class but also the teacher shared with the pupils what Dave did on a weekend and I asked why they did that and they said they saw it was really important to get to know each other and that that requires teachers to be open but I know that many people work in the teaching profession would think well actually that there's a dividing line between the private and the working life and in order to maintain my sense of professionalism I need to hold that straight and hold that firm and I wondered how you how you think about those issues when you're talking to teachers and and there's those difficult decisions to make about about that kind of professionalism versus building really strong relationships yes so you would not talk about The Hangover that you got on Saturday night or the party that you went to or whatever anything like that right but you would talk about for example you know what I learned over the weekend or what did I do i went with my kids to us to a football game I went and did this I went and took care of my mom those are things that appropriate or you could say for example you would not talk about I'm going through a divorce right now right I don't think that's appropriate but you could say when if they're talking about or if it's appropriate or whatever is and if it comes up appropriately it's like these are the things that when I was your age I experienced wow I had a horrible I had a terrible crush on somebody oh my goodness it was so painful right and so those are the things we need to be able to share but also be able to draw boundaries not just for young people but also for teachers and particularly I would say that I work with a lot of teachers who have not who are young teachers new to the profession who particularly are challenged by that and so they feel like they want to establish rapport with their students so they want to be friends and that of course does not work so being able to establish your authority but also be a human being is important right it's really important or it's also a level of generalities like wow my kids really at a heart gave me a hard time this weekend but you don't go into the specifics of what that is you thought about some of the ways in which life is changing for young people and I noticed that you'd written an op-ed in The Huffington Post last week about a group of students from Covington Catholic High School who'd attended and the first indigenous peoples march in Washington and hadn't necessarily behaved in a way that that gave the other marchers dignity and I wondered if you think there are broader kind of social political trends the polarization that we're seeing yes and they're having an impact on the ways that young people behave and the ways that they might act towards other people sure so so this was a as you all know the United States obviously is going through a lot of struggles with the concepts of dignity and respect and in this particular case these young men were on a field trip a school sponsored field trip and they half of that approximately went to this group and they were wearing red Magga make America great hats and my point in the op-ed was that to have the supervising adults there were four people that were antagonizing these boys but if you're they're educators in the room I don't even know why anybody goes on a trip with a group of teenagers I mean my goodness the amount of like of trouble that it usually happens on these trips it's just it's incredibly challenging under the best of circumstances so to have a group of young men who are going because they want participate in a in the pro-life march of the united states and they are wearing a hat that signifies to many people in the united states a lack of respect to life is really ignorant insensitive and can really incite a lot of reaction negative reaction from people and so my point was is that the adults who are supervising those children at the very least their responsibility to those children is to educate them about what they are doing and to be respectful and considerate about as I said the very beginning their right to freedom of expression needs to be balanced against the right of other people to be in a public space and not feel threatened and for some people in my in the in the United States it is absolutely mysterious to them why that hat create so much fear and for many people in my country that is obvious and so we are trying that thing of your right to express yourself balanced against the consideration of the community in the village is essential and it is essential that educators understand that and communicate that to young people my belief is that it is irresponsible to not talk to young people about that and to allow them then to be in a public space where they are where the tendency would be or you could not be surprised that people would get really reactive so I'm also was really glad to see by the way that the bishop the Catholic bishop of lexington kentucky wrote an op-ed that was very much in support of that that just came out a couple of days ago yeah i mean these are really challenging conversations to have with young people but they are and ones all the same and really i I do get for young people one of the things that's so wonderful about working with young people is their passion to express themselves and their right and there are feelings of advocacy and wanting to express themselves and so our job is to be able to show them and guide them navigate through them through the process of your rights do not take away your responsibilities to other people and that is one of our fundamental responsibilities two young people is to listen to them and to frame those kinds of conversations in ways that are meaningful to them I mean it completely times with work that we've been doing here at the RSA on young people's voice and a really strong sense young people have a lot to say a lot of things they want to positively change in the world they just need support to do that and I'm aware that I've slightly taken over the QA but I think it's time to hand over to the audience so if you have any questions and please can you just raise your hand and what I'll try to do is I'll try to take a couple of questions at a time so as many people as possible get a chance to speak when you take the mic we're just waving with a couple if you could just say your name and then state your question really clearly I'm so I think I saw one hand up and any other questions and one at the back on one here I'm sorry and then we're going to take the gentleman over on this side my name is Jonah Hayward I'm just wondering understanding the pressures that are on teachers and they're not using this as an excuse but I'm wondering the impact of the pressures that are in schools both on students with the curriculum and on teachers in teaching that curriculum and what you're talking about seems to take time and children need time and we seem to have lacked that aspect of the job and giving that time yeah what's your so the question of time and preparation it's like we it's amazing because we know the answers we do know the answers that relationships are what makes young people try hard and develop the grit that we like to talk about in education to keep trying and yet we keep pushing them and pushing them and teachers often feel the pressure to keep going even if the students for example have not absorbed everything they should in the lesson I've got to keep going because I have to teach to the test so here's here's the thing that is mind-boggling to me and is a challenge that I think we all need to face which is it is truly inexcusable to me the teaching colleges do not emphasize to teach and train teachers about social dynamics group dynamics how to be an ethical leader in the classroom how to be able to read social dynamics how to be able to understand why some why one young person will feel comfortable speaking for others and the other children might completely disagree but not say anything about it when one of the thing that they don't teach in colleges and teaching colleges amazes me which is that you never see the first hit basically as a teacher you always see the retaliation and so if you see the second hit but you don't understand the dynamics that happen before it or even understand that that's a possibility you will get the second child who is retaliating who probably doesn't have as much social skills as the first one you will get that child in trouble and you will not hold accountable the other children that contributed to the problem and then what happens what happens is the teacher looks like they are the one in the entire classroom that knows the least about what is going on in the classroom so the power of the socially able perpetrator is completely reinforced in these moments that that is not taught in teaching colleges is in excusable so we can be subject matter experts and that is important but if we cannot teach we are useless so when I talk to teachers about these things and I develop these lesson plans one of the things that I do is we talk very intensely with them about what is actually the tension of what is okay what is the amount of time to prepare for a lesson on these things and also how does it fit in the classroom and so we have developed and this is only because we are in relationship with teachers where they were actually tell us the truth about their frustrations and so what we believe is that it is a reasonable expectation in a planning session per week is that we have one person who is doing social-emotional learning who is the hub the center that takes about a half an hour for them to prepare the lesson plan for the week and that the teacher who is who is responsible for the direct implementation needs about 10 to 15 minutes per week to be able to implement a lesson plan around social motional learning if they have the training beforehand the training is not 400 hours we can get people we no from social science that about 14 hours there's a sweet spot where teachers start to believe in themselves to be able to do this work so you get 14 hours and then 15 minutes to prepare a lesson plan and then you get teachers who are feeling more confident to be able to do this work I think the the dynamic that you're pointing a finger at is a really difficult one in the UK education system at the moment and I don't know if it's the same in the States I'd be interested to know but we're having problems with recruiting and retaining teachers and what a lot of schools are having to do under budgetary pressures is is get rid of support staff who would have traditionally existed so you've got fewer teachers with fewer support staff to help them navigate some of these more difficult kind of pieces of work that they might need to do with young people and so so the pressure I think is feeling is feeling really acute here at the moment and you can ask teachers to do another thing sometimes it just feels too hard so what and so there's two answers to that quickly which is that if you can show teachers they have to be trained by somebody who they believe in they can't have somebody training them who hasn't been in a classroom for 20 years they don't that is not gonna fly with teachers and I agree with that you need people who actually know down you know concretely how to work in a classroom what that looks like second is that we need to have we need to be able to acknowledge that we are doing this to teachers and that we are setting them up for failure we have growth mindset right if we love growth mindset for children love it we do not apply that to adult so we don't apply that to teachers you're not good at social dynamics and children yet right so we need to apply the same thing because for teachers we are constantly evaluating them and evaluating them and then not having the same attitude that we have towards young people and then we're we're surprised that they are afraid or have a bad attitude because they just got caught making a mistake so the debt we need to be able to acknowledge that for teachers and then we've got to be super clear which is that if we take away those support systems then we are making young people much more vulnerable to not only not being able to survive being able to thrive but to literally being able to survive that is the lit that is the actual thing that we need to admit to ourselves is what are we willing to invest in our children let got to be honest if we're gonna cut that support staff then we are willing to let children die I'm aware that this gentleman's been very patiently awaiting to ask a question sorry in the third row from the back which i think is relevant I still love the supply teaching the best school ever went to was the school where all the children knew they teachers by their first names I then had an opportunity later to be a director of a summer school but I had children from 4 different countries learning English use that told all the staff the cleaners the cooks everyone the first names your uncle and Aunty there's no barriers that works because if you don't put the barrier there in the first place you don't have to overcome it just my thoughts yeah man I think the children call me by the that I'm teaching usually call me by my first name I think it's it's a good it's a it's a good I don't there are people who feel strongly about the other way because we need Authority and we need sort of lines of demarcation but I think is that you can have a teacher who is called by their first name that children really do respect and we can have teachers who have very little boundaries or too informal and children lose respect so I think it's a good starting place I think it needs to be backed up by effective behaviour and I'm just going to take one final question because we're running out of time and I see one in this second row from the back towards the middle yes thank you hi my name is Sophie Spitz I have a question about dress codes um yeah Jessica it's oh it's the last question of course it's always the last question big yeah um about so where's the line between with dress codes body autonomy and also respect and wearing appropriate clothing then also the fact that we tend to like sexualize the female body so where is the line between let's say someone wearing short shorts that not being appropriate but at the same time recognizing that maybe we only don't see that as appropriate because like female the legs are just seen as sexual yeah yeah oh I could talk about this for so long so I have to choose what I'm gonna say it it's very hard okay I think systemically I think this is actually a place where young people can have voice but not necessarily not necessarily vote and I'm not saying 100% I'm just saying that I think that we need to have more voice for young people in the creation of dress code because what they can do specifically is we can have rules about like how wide a strap is or how long your skirt is but what actually really matters in some ways more is how the adults communicate those standards to young people that engage or disengage our scene is respectful or disrespectful so what I wanted what I think that's really important is to have young people on a like a dress code committee that is with a faculty person or with a Dean and what you want to hear from the young people young people is what are the things specifically you don't just say who sang it but what are the specific things that a teacher is saying or the administrator is saying that you are having a hard time with then it becomes a battle of wills right what are the specific phrases that set you off and you can't listen to that person anymore well how would you want to be spoken to instead because here's the thing I know about dress codes when I talk to a child about dress code I do not shame them in a group of children what are you wearing do you realize how you're coming across today is never ever if the child's never going to internalize I guess the values you're trying to impart if you're walking down the hallway and you see a girl or you see a boy that are out of dress code and you say hey can you just come here and talk to me for a second and so they're away from their peers and they and you say hey honey sweetheart you know like whether I like the dress code or not we have rules here and you know you're at a dress code and you are so much say the girls wearing something super super short okay you are so much more than you're a beautiful young woman but you are so much more than what you're wearing and also what is I want to know what what you are proud of for yourself and how what you're wearing is a reflection of that now the adult Michalka of different right disagreements and I've had disagreements with the older girls particularly about that but the conversation is what's important and for the adult to say to a young woman and to a young man today you are more than what you wear like I understand that it's an extension or a reflection of where you are and that's important but I want to know more about you and I want people to see more about you and that's important to me then that's a whole different level of a conversation and it's treating the child with dignity and you live in an institution that has rules that on whether you like them or not you have to conform to them because you've agreed to be a member of this community you could hate them you can advocate to change them you can become an expert on legal issues and rights for young people and dress code but you are conforming to this in this community now and so that is a different way to have the conversation then you're at a dress code do you see what you're looking at you know put your fingers down are you met you know do you pass the test that raises it to a different level those are the kinds of conversations I want young people to have with adults and I want adults listening to young people so that the right message is being communicated it definitely feels like we could talk about these issues one day but I'm afraid we really have foreign and thank you so much for your great questions and for being here today and if you still have questions that you're burning to ask Rosalind then she's going to be sticking around and she's going to be signing books and chatting to you in the corner of the room here so so do you stick around for a chat and if you're interested in learning more about the work that the RSA he's doing on education at the moment we'd really encourage you to look on our website and find out more and and to mill about in the new coffeehouse space that we have downstairs which is an excellent place to meet people where the working at the RSA or Fellows of the RSA who are doing really interesting work on education at the moment and without further ado I'd like you to join me in thanking Rosalind Wiseman [Applause] you

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4 thoughts on “Creating Cultures of Dignity | Rosalind Wiseman | RSA Replay

  1. This is why you never send your kids to non-religious schools. They get wishy-washy psychobabble and soulless social justice instead of old-school doctrine that have been the backbone of functioning societies for thousands of years.

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