LAERSKOOL OOSPARK: PUTTING RESPECT AT THE CENTRE OF TEACHING AND LEARNING

Written by Mary Grosser

Respect is a fundamental trait that is needed to be successful in one’s personal and professional life. A changing and challenging world of the 21st century therefore demands not only the teaching of knowledge, but also the cultivation of thinking skills and in particular well developed dispositions/attitudes (in short, competencies to think and to behave) (Eyre, 2016; Pink, 2006). It is therefore essential that education should enable learners to become Advanced Performers, by moving beyond producing individuals who can read, write and count. Education must be transformative and bring shared values to life, and cultivate an active care for the world and for those with whom we share it (Eyre, 2016; Pink, 2006).

Respect is difficult to measure, and as such, difficult to teach. With careful purposeful

attention, observation of good role models, and re-enforcement this disposition can be nurtured in learners impeccably.

Laerskool Oospark in Vanderbijlpark decided that the purposeful and intentional nurturing of “respect” should stand at the centre of teaching that aims to instil good thinking habits among learners at the school during 2017. The school joined the research project at the NWU Optentia Research Focus Area that aims to assist schools to help learners acquire the skills and dispositions of Advanced Performers. On 9 June 2017, the staff members at the school attended a workshop on how to proceed with the purposeful nurturing of respect among all learners.

Teachers and learners at Laerskool Oospark collaboratively are deciding on what “respect” constitutes and developed a logo to display their conceptualisation of “respect”, which is displayed at strategic places in the school building.

Each letter in the word “respect” will represent a different dimension of respect on which the focus will be placed. Now, R represents rules, E represents enthusiasm, and S represents self-discipline. As the project unfolds, the remaining letters will be linked to a dimension of respect. The heart in the logo symbolises the idea that all dispositions/attitudes originate in your heart and are carried in your heart. The logo is also displayed on the letterhead of the school and against all the classroom walls, to make the importance of respect visible in the school.

In order to make the focus on respect visible in the school, each learner and teacher wears a red silicon wristband with the word of the dimension of respect that is reinforced. For now, “rules” is branded on the wristband. This serves as a constant reminder of what the focus in curricular and extra-curricular activities at the school is. Different colour branded silicon bands will be used to reflect the different dimensions of respect.

Some of the posters displayed in the school building.