Transformation of schools cannot occur on just a technical level; it will not work unless there is a cultural change, a change in attitudes and beliefs in individuals. Awakening Wisdom begins with transformation of the individual to effect change in the school’s culture. It is a way of being exhibited by individuals that ultimately shapes the culture to realize the mission and vision of a school and the quality of human being we want to send forth into the world. Awakening Wisdom is also a system of processes and practices to nurture the social and emotional needs of students. We use Awakening Wisdom as the intended implicit curriculum, the context of a school.
All human beings have a need for connectedness, for a sense of belonging and community.
Our personal power comes from:
All human beings have a need for a sense of self, identity, and autonomy and to be authentic to that sense of self. This is more likely to happen when an individual feels connectedness and belonging.
The power of the individual, the keystone of the Four Rs.
To see oneself as “cause” instead of victim: I may not have a choice as to what happens to me, but I always have a choice in how I respond. I gain my power by accepting responsibility for my choices, instead of blaming, lying, making excuses, and justifying.
The balance of power between individuals.
We are social creatures whose need for connectedness is enhanced by respecting the boundaries of decision-making. I will respect others by not making decisions that are appropriate for them to make; I will respect myself by not allowing others to make decisions for me that appropriate for me to make.
How we will approach our work.
In my work with others, I will be open to possibilities with creative problem solving to find a solution, instead of nay saying that shuts down possibilities and reduces energy.
Toward the purpose from which we will make our choices.
I will act for the good of the whole community so it is a win-win and not win-lose for myself and others.
Adults model these values in their speaking and actions. Our students know when we adults don’t “walk the talk.” The Four Rs elucidated with specific behaviors become our norms to guide our working together; e.g., “If I have a concern or complaint, I will speak to the person who can do something about it, rather than complain to others.”
We focus on building relationships and community throughout the school and with parents and colleagues.
We empower students’ voices by listening to them and taking them seriously. We provide opportunities for them to lead in many ways. We give them as many choices as appropriate to raise their sense of self.
School discipline sends many powerful messages by HOW a school disciplines its students. Instead of detention, we use students’ mistakes as an opportunity to learn by reflecting with an adult through a process where students acknowledge their mistake, clean it up, learn from the mistake to have it less likely to happen again and reflect on what they learned about themselves. By lessening fear of “getting in trouble,” we nurture students’ sense of personal responsibility and sense of self, and as a result, our students grow in maturity and confidence.
Through aligning all the elements in the school’s culture – explicit and implicit – one creates a learning organization:
—Peter Senge, MIT Sloan School of Management, author of The Fifth Discipline
By paying attention to the context of the school, one creates an environment in which students become confident individuals who flourish and learn as conscious, responsible human beings, necessary for a healthy democratic society.
With Awakening Wisdom, all students are given more than just an education. We are given a place where we are accepted for who we are, encouraged to express ourselves and our abilities, and celebrated for our ideas, our accomplishments, and our identity.
River School was the place where is I got that extra push to become who I am today; I have a confidence I never dreamed of, and a drive to follow my educational and career goals that does not waiver.
River School taught me that I was part of a community that was greater than myself. I learned that being a responsible member of a community involves listening to and respecting diverse perspectives.
Awakening Wisdom has given me the ability to look outside of myself and be a part of what’s good for the whole. At home and at work, I do my best to take responsibility for my actions and work towards being a part of the solution, instead of perpetuating the problem when issues arise.