choose respect

April 20, 2011

community work

The motto of the school is “safe and respectful learners”. As I worked with the children, I wondered whether the meaning of the motto had been deconstructed for them. They are very good at parroting the motto, but it did not appear to be integrated into classroom practice, the curriculum, and the playground. I have observed some school staff not role modelling the principles.

Last year I was thinking about doing some community projects about choosing respect, deconstructing what respect is, and following up with practical activities. My manager mentioned that there is a website called Choose Respect, created by Gary Butcher in Western Australia

I contacted Gary by email, telling him about the community I work in, and asking him about his programme. Gary rang me and told me he was coming to Sydney for a conference and he would love to speak to the community about Choose Respect. I advertised the meeting across the local government area through community networks and local newspapers. Gary visited in June 2010 and spoke to an audience of approximately sixty people, all from community organisations. His talk about Choose Respect was inspiring.

Choose Respect is an overarching umbrella for everything that the community decides to initiate around the theme of respect. The principles are simply about respect for environment, property, culture, and people. The one principle that is different to most discussion about respect is the choice to “treat others with respect no matter how they treat you”. Whenever, respect is mentioned, it is usually associated with “you have to give respect, in order to get respect”. The other really nice parts of the strategy are forgiveness, and choosing not to seek revenge.

Gary came back to Sydney in August 2010, and spoke to children, parents, and teachers at the school I work in. Choose Respect is going ahead in one local area, with the organisation I work for being the lead agency. The community I work in has very few services and at this time there is not enough momentum to establish the project in the area.

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About hakea

groupworker, parent educator, therapist, mother of three boys.

View all posts by hakea


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6 Comments on “choose respect”

  1. Karyn @ kloppenmum Says:

    School mottos are often words with no actions to back them up, particularly by the teachers. I was always interested in seeing how the adults interacted with one another whenever I began at a new school. How the Principal behaved was also very interesting. Good on you for putting it all into action – well at least starting the ball rolling, anyhoo.


    • hakea Says:

      It’s a shame, but I just don’t have the time to put Choose Respect into action. A full-time community development worker is being employed for the area, so hopefully s/he will continue the work.


  2. eof737 Says:

    I like that you were able to get him to visit and that the response was great. Often, the jargon of school mottos remain just that; words that are often not fully implemented. Good job!


    • hakea Says:

      Gary has been very generous with his time. Choose Respect is a fantastic movement. I believe that there is something similar in the US.


  3. lifewithgoblins Says:

    This is wonderful! So important to teach our children about respecting one another, compassion, understanding….it all goes hand in hand.


    • hakea Says:

      Hi Goblin Mum

      It is good! The movement is slowly being picked up in communities across Australia, and as each community is different the project is expressed according to need.


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