RETHINKING SCHOOL Deep Humanity Institute helps school administrators, teachers, support staff and students redefine the learning environment, with special attention focused on discipline, teaching methodology, classroom and curriculum management, and justice. Creating a peaceful environment in schools is not a simple thing; this is not a new program for addressing bullying, or for behaviour modification. It is as much about a different journey for teachers, parents and administrators as it is about helping students address unproductive behaviours. It asks us to challenge, however difficult it is, our basic assumptions about rules, infractions, punishment and authority. It asks us to model personal responsibility for our individual and collective actions, and to examine our values and beliefs about education, justice, democracy, and empowerment. It is also the most exciting educational shift to happen since learning was institutionalized, and has a great potential, over time, to fundamentally change our society. So, you would like to explore implementing restorative approaches within your school or district? Congratulations. We embarked on this journey a number of years ago. It is a journey which continues to teach us more about ourselves and our community than we had ever imagined it would. It is a journey that invites us to embrace conflict and those we are in conflict with. It is not, however, a path which we can impose upon another, a new ‘program in a box’ or a ‘quick fix’ for anyone. Restorative approaches challenge us to live our lives differently, and model the change we want to see in the world. This is an ongoing personal transformation which requires curiosity, time and dedication. It is about learning through experience, exploration, and a certain awakening. While the journey often begins with exposure to restorative ideas through a training, or story, the paradigm cannot be understood fully and internalized in only a few days—at times we wonder whether a lifetime is enough! We welcome you to walk alongside us on this journey. We invite you to a dialogue on the underlying philosophy. It is not a journey for the faint of heart, and you will need support along the way. There is a wonderfully supportive group of people working to develop and promote a restorative approach in various environments. They share their ideas and responses to difficult questions, and right here in Canada we are fortunate to be surrounded by many in this field who are held in high esteem internationally. However, there are no easy answers along this path, for everyone must find their own. In this work we need to take lots of notes, pay attention to what has importance and meaning, and look to those around us to teach us, especially the children. It is important to ask ourselves and others many, many questions. Challenge our assumptions about everything. And most importantly, we must ensure we have a tremendous amount of fun along the way.
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