Sunday, June 10, 2012

Culture: Tenets?

I've been thinking about culture this year--the culture of classrooms, families, schools and school systems. I've defined aspects of culture that I believe are important to successful schools, and I've thought about ways to tend culture.

Now I'm wondering about the tenets of culture. Tenets of a culture are the principles and beliefs of that culture.

Last week, I engaged in a discussion about cultural tenets.  I recognized at a recent school-wide assembly people clapped and hollered to show their regard for colleagues. Typically, in the old days, people would reserve their applause for the end of a ceremony and few, if any, would holler.  But today, many holler at all kinds of events and clap at will.  At the table we discussed the changes we've noticed related to ceremonial behavior. I mentioned that it would be interesting to talk about this, and other changing tenets--what do we believe is best, what are our shared tenets in the collective school culture?

I believe that shared cultural tenets frame and direct an organization's collective purpose, activity and vision.

What tenets do I believe are important in learning communities?

As I think about this question, I realize it is a difficult question to answer, but I'll attempt to name a few.

Learning Community Tenets
  • The learning community belongs to all members: students, staff, teachers, administrators, families and community members.
  • Everyone has a voice; and the ideas of all members of the community are heard and respected.
  • We are all learners and work together for best effect.
  • We are an inclusive community, and whenever possible all are invited to partake in community endeavor. 
  • Everyone has a responsibility to contribute to the learning community with respect, effort and investment.
  • We work together to write, implement and revise common purpose, goals and vision.
  • All members of the community can succeed and we work to foster that success for all.
  • Failure is expected, and we define failure as an opportunity for growth.
  • Learning is multidimensional including academics, the arts, physical education, social skill and emotional health and intelligence.
What tenets would you add to this list?  Which tenets might you delete or change?  How do tenets compare to values--are they the same, or is one more valuable than the other?  

Culture: What is it, how do we tend it, and what tenets define it?  This is a good topic to think about during summer days of study, reflection and family life.  Then when we return to our learning communities in the fall, we can work together to define and implement those tenets we feel are most important for student success and engagement.