School Culture – The Role of Schools in Building Healthy Relationships With All People
In the United States, our school system, like that of many countries around the world, has developed strong school culture. A school culture is the shared values, practices, associations, and interaction that students have with their teachers and with each other within the school. Much like the larger academic culture, a school culture is influenced by conscious and subconscious attitudes, values, behaviors, experiences, and relationships, and is largely influenced by a school’s specific historical institutional context. Students, parents, teachers, administration, and other members of the school community all contribute to the school s culture. This has important implications for students’ learning and emotional well-being.
Despite the importance of teachers in shaping school culture, much less is known about the role their gender and sexual orientation play in the process. One study found that teachers were more likely to report sexual harassment or other hostile activity directed at lesbian, gay, or bisexual students. Surprisingly, gay male teachers were more likely to engage in hostile activity than were straight male teachers. These results suggest that teachers are pressured to behave in ways that make them feel safe, but that they are not able to escape the influence of others who may act in a way that makes them uncomfortable.
Our nation’s school culture also shapes children’s attitudes and choices. As they enter school, children learn what is believed to be acceptable and what is considered unacceptable within their peer group. At a young age, children begin to internalize these beliefs. For example, if they learn that drinking is a bad idea, they may decide not to drink it at all. However, they may learn differently at home. Similarly, when they are brought up in a Christian home, they may take different beliefs into account when making decisions about drinking.
The school culture plans that you develop will depend on the attitudes, opinions, and experiences of the people you want to come into contact with on a daily basis. You will need to understand their thinking and their beliefs. By having these facts available, you can more effectively shape their decisions. When you explain why certain norms are important, you can also encourage innovation and free thought. This will encourage parents, students, staff, and other stakeholders to consider new ways of doing things.
Another important component of a school culture plan is defining cultural changes that need to occur. This includes identifying the kinds of behaviors and traditions that will no longer be acceptable. It also includes knowing which norms must change so that these behaviors and traditions can be replaced with new ones. A culture needs to adapt to changing priorities.
In order for school culture to be successful, teachers must know their students’ beliefs and attitudes. This includes knowing what values they hold out to others. Teachers should be receptive to the ideas of their students. They must also be willing to consider new practices and ways of doing things that will make their school environment more tolerant and diverse. When these attitudes and beliefs are valued, positive developments can occur.