At the Giles School we utilize many of Adler’s principles in our approach to children. It is well documented that a highly developed social intelligence supports and leads to an increased operating intelligence. The balance between the development of these two understandings is essential to the evolution of a global citizen capable of excelling in leadership at all levels. For example, Adler believed in equality and mutual respect for all. At the Giles School we not only encourage the children to respect each other and themselves but also expect and require staff to demonstrate respect for the child in their interactions with them.
What does this philosophy look like in practice at Giles?
We include the children in creating the rules of the class. If there is a conflict, we discuss it as a class and get everybody’s input and ideas to resolve it and find an acceptable solution for the group as a whole. If we need to discuss the individual child’s behaviour, we talk with talk to the child privately, if at all possible, instead of making an example of the child in front of the class.
Body language also carries a powerful message of mutual respect. Approaching a child at their physical level and not towering over them demonstrates an equality of circumstances and opens the mind of the child to a wide variety of alternative solutions that would not be considered in a superior/subordinate relationship. Looking directly at them when discussing the issue(s) sends the message that ‘we are in this together’ and provides an equitable platform for the discovery of solutions. Note that we talk with them not at them. We understand that when you talk at children they quickly tune you out and barriers to the exchange of understandings are immediately established. When you talk with them, they are more likely to openly hear and understand your opinion and integrate it into their perspective of the situation.
Making affirmative statements like “I feel very frustrated when you are talking during class. It hurts my feelings because I feel like you don’t care about what I am saying.” At first glance this may appear to make you vulnerable but it allows the child to humanize you and see you as a person with feelings. It is easy to ignore a something but much harder to ignore a someone. Building an effective rapport with the children is essential. It creates a strong and respectful two way relationship that strengthens your ability to guide them through the learning experiences.
Our aim at The Giles School is to treat everybody with respect. These are just a few ways in which we interpret and demonstrate our commitment to Adlerian principles.
Please check this blog regularly for more articles on how Giles interprets and operationalises Adlerian Principles.