Good morning. My name isTom Cavanagh, and today I want to continue the discussion in the earlier blog about relationships. As a reminder, relationships are the key element to restorative justice, particularly restorative justice in schools, because we have ongoing relationships in a school setting, whereas in a legal setting we may not have those ongoing relationships.
However, it's important also because teacher-student relationships are shown by the research to be the most important element of working with and creating improved educational outcomes for children of color. What these children have told us in our interviews is they want their teachers to care for them, and they want them to care for them not only in terms of their learning but also to care for them as culturally located individuals.
So let me tell you a little story to explain what I'm talking about. I was interviewing a high school aged Maori girl in New Zealand, and I simply asked her, “What is it like to be Maori in this school?” This is her answer, “Most of the time the lights are out except on Tuesday afternoons,” and of course, being a researcher, I asked, “What happens on Tuesday afternoons,” and she answered, “Kapa haka practice.” Now, kapa haka is Maori performing arts. So I consulted with my Maori colleagues in New Zealand about this answer because it was metaphorical, and I didn't quite understand.
Now this student never got into trouble, got good grades, and was a very outstanding student. She found she had to park at the school gate who and what she was as a Maori person in order to be successful in the school. So what we want is for these students not only to be able to learn but also to be able to be who and what they are throughout the school, in the classroom, in the hallways, and on the playground. So that's the very important thing that I want to leave you with; not only are relationships important, but they need to be culturally appropriate.
This blog is hosted by Dr Tom Cavanagh, President of Restorative Justice Education. I have kept a blog since 2008. If you are interested in past blog postings, you may find them at http://restorativepracticesinschools.blogspot.com/