My intention in creating this blog is to promote a restorative way of being in our schools and perhaps by extension, in our world. My engagement with RP has been an insightful journey that I began in 2010 and am still voyaging. I hope to share this here with others who may also hold the intention to be the change that they want to see in the world. For me, this is a world that honours people, care and community; a world where we see ourselves in one another, where we live form our hearts, our core. This inspires me.
My interest in RP is driven by its transformative potential; its ability to create caring, respectful communities that I wish to be a part of; communities that develop the emotional literacy skills of all it serves and who serve it. Martin Seligman (2011), who is a major figure in the well-being movement, believes that well-being should be taught in schools and I am very interested in a restorative community’s ability to do this, especially when considering the “flood of depression” (Seligman, 2011, 80) and disconnectedness that face not only our youth, but people of any age and background today. Community has the potential to impact positively on relationships and well-being.
Restorative Practice has a clear set of explicit practices that are both proactive and reactive. This offers an exciting potential of a framework for school wide implementation. But RP is, at its core, a way of being – communication, thinking, listening, speaking, approaching, engaging and working together. For me, it is a way of being in the world that not only speaks to my core beliefs as a teacher, but echoes my values as a human being. Marianne Williamson, a spiritual teacher and activist, suggests that if we know what changes a heart then we know what changes the world. It is my belief, informed by the evidence of the action research that I engaged in as part of my thesis, that RP offers the capacity to live from our hearts; to change, if not yet the whole world, our way of being in our own world- in our classroom, school and community.
When I think reflectively about what I mean by community, I realise that it is inspired by my spiritual beliefs and value system. Being part of creating community speaks to my own inner truth about who I want to be, as not only a teacher, but as a human being in this world. Similarly, my desire to promote RP is, somewhat, connected to my perception of my life’s purpose, my personal ideals regarding all of our purpose in this world – to see ourselves in one another (Tolle, 2005). My definition of community, for the purpose of the action research study I completed and for the work that I will share on this blog, is a group of people who meet in an organised, structured space that is agenda and solution focused – a Professional Learning Community (PLC). But community, on a personal, spiritual level, is a group of individuals who are connected, who share who they are, who see themselves in the other; a group who seeks to serve one another, to promote reflections that offer truthful ways of seeing and being in the world; that offer community. RP practices can, in my view, offer the opportunity to achieve this – to understand, to empathise; to become more conscious, connected, and aware. To help us “remember who we are” (Walsch, 1997, 21). It also offers the chance to engage and seek our own truth, sometimes, through knowing that of others. Palmer alludes to a need to create such community in education, a connectedness that honours a spiritual understanding of the “hidden wholeness” (Palmer, 1993, xii).
My personal vision of an ideal school community is one dedicated to honouring and evolving the relationship between schooling, well-being and happiness. In my view this can be synthesised through positive relationships, those that RP aims to promote. I am inspired by the potential synergy between these and I feel that working in community with fellow teachers in a PLC could help to achieve it. I hope that this blog accelerates the potential of this work.
Palmer, J. P. (1993.) To Know As We Are Known – Education as a Spiritual Journey. New York. HarperCollins
Seligman, M. (2011). Flourish – A New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being. London. Nicholas Brealey Publishing.
Tolle, E. (2005). A New Earth. England. Clays Ltd.
Walsch, D. N. (1997). Conversations with God. Great Britain. Hodder and Stoughton.