In her latest New York Times Op-Ed piece, Susan Engel and co-author Marlene Sandstrom, both of Williams College, discuss ways to reduce bullying in schools. Claiming that
a growing emphasis on standardized test scores as the primary measure of “successful” schools has crowded out what should be an essential criterion for well-educated students: a sense of responsibility for the well-being of othersEngel and Sandstrom argue that "educators need to make a profound commitment to turn schools into genuine communities." Besides ensuring that they and their students have "conversations about relationships every day," and that students know that "kindness and collaboration to be every bit as important as algebra and reading," teachers should
structure learning activities in which children are interdependent and can learn to view individual differences as unique sources of strength. It’s vital that every student, not just the few who sign up for special projects or afterschool activities, be involved in endeavors that draw them together.In other words, besides having students get together to talk about relationships, teachers should also have students get together for academic tasks.
look at Norway, where the prevention of such incidents became a major emphasis of the school system after three teenage victims of bullying committed suicide in 1983. There, everyone gets involved — teachers, janitors and bus drivers are all trained to identify instances of bullying, and taught how to intervene. Teachers regularly talk to one another about how their students interact. Children in every grade participate in weekly classroom discussions about friendship and conflict. Parents are involved in the process from the beginning.But what's egregiously missing from this Norwegian comparison is any mention of Norwegian school children working cooperatively on academic assignments.