An oxymoron: cancel culture and a community school
A community school is part of a village. In a village, there can be conflict. In a family, there can be hurt. Authentic communities experience agreement and also discord, difference and ire. Such forms part of living with others. Embedded in a relationship, schools and homes collaborate to raise future fit children safely. Every school pupil is developing. They make mistakes and learn hard lessons on the way. They must fail forward. As such, a school committed to being a community cannot tolerate the evil that is cancel culture.
Rather, they: respect and uphold the law; resolve issues and differences to reach the right outcome; choose not to gossip about others, especially other children; have tough conversations; seek to understand; implement remedies; trust each other in our various roles as their only interest is the child; bring discipline; extend grace.
Staff and parents undertake to raise each perfectly imperfect child together. Most are passionate about the process and deeply interested. Ethics are everything.
Juxtaposed to the idea of a community school is cancel culture. “Cancel culture is a movement to remove status or esteem from a person, place, or thing, based on (perceived) offensive behaviour or transgression.” (Pew, 2021).
In this culture, there is no room for grace, no mechanism to reconcile, and no right to air the issues bilaterally in a safe and contained manner. Apology and correction seldom feature. It can be that one person errs, and an army of aggrieved people join in unison to obliterate the so-called perpetrator.
In step with the pervasive rot that is cancel culture, parents and even staff can be bold enough to demand that children are banished based on their difference, their errors, their challenging behaviours, and their diverse views. Sometimes, a cabal of adults insist that the offending child be removed. This behaviour falls so far outside the culture of care at a community school that it is worth calling out.
Not by name, as is the modus operandi of the cancel movement, but collectively, each of us committed to belonging and community must act as swiftly as possible to halt the behaviour when it comes to our ears. Schools cannot be safe if some children fear that other parents plot their demise.
Every child matters.
None are perfect.
Some had enormous difficulties and challenges.
Many think differently.
It is our job of work in schools to raise outstanding citizens, tolerant human beings, and empathic young people. We must model and guide children towards being leaders and contributors to a just and equitable society.
Communities do need boundaries and behavioural expectations. Conduct that interferes with the ethos of a school must be dealt with firmly, in love. Rarely, but possibly, a parting of ways can happen if it is in the interest of the children involved.
But expulsion on demand. Never
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