Pastoral Caring

There is much that happens in a school that is not defined in a curriculum, there is much that is learned in our western schools that is not stated as a learning requirement - known as the hidden curriculum. People discuss this hidden curriculum but even the very use of the term allows for it not to be considered as essential learning. Yet attitude that contemporary students bring from schools are as important in formulating society as are the qualifications they achieve.

Many educationalists recognise the importance of these attitudes but despite efforts, doomed to failure, including civics, pastoral education, personal and social economics these attitudes remain. They remain because the lessons are never considered serious as they are part of the qualification factory.

Natural Path education is not an exam factory so these attitudes are integrated into the curriculum - the learning process.

Any attitude that students develop during the time at a Natural Path School is part of its curriculum, and as such we would hope to impart an identity with Nature. Significant in this is the pastoral system we develop. Despite the desires of pastoral teachers workload and other pressures usually turn pastoral systems into punishment systems, that is unavoidable when schools are created to have problems - Hijack.

So how will we look at caring? Firstly staff are committed to the Natural Path ideal, and as such during school their commitment is 100%. Whilst it would be understood that staff must have time to themselves, it would also be understood that if necessary they are on call. But that is Natural. In good community life you don't say I cannot help you I am busy, you live with your community. But it is not only the staff who should be helping. Older students help younger ones. If the school becomes large that young students do not know older ones then a house system could be put in place where identity to the house develops identity with the school. NOT identity with the house develops competition.

Within these pastoral echelons systems need to be created that develop initiative within the caring identity of the school. I worked in one school where General Cleaning was an appalling chore. Every Wednesday afternoon for half an hour or more the whole school cleaned and polished. Everyday the school cleaned the classrooms at the end of the day. Sadly it did not make the students more litter-conscious but at least they solved their own problem. Students can take care of their own environment, they can be encouraged to decorate and make it their own - not simply token posters on the wall because parents or inspectors are visiting. Decorate and care for the environment in a personal way. Ecologically-sound projects could be developed within the school and within the wider community, projects that students own and care for responsibly. It is theirs, why wouldn't they do it? Even within the alienation of state schools many students become committed to projects despite the problems of vandalism and other issues of alienation associated with this. How much more can be done when everyone is working together? Older students making decisions working with younger ones on projects that they are all doing together, and teachers on hand for advice if necessary.

Designed structures need to be setup that allow students to make constructive views known. Such councils are common-place in schools, but are currently designed to give the appearance that students have a voice. Student expectations become too high and they become disillusioned. Such councils have a place in the Natural Order. Adults making decisions need advice. Older students can advise the adults, younger students can advise the older ones. If there is a genuine commitment to sharing and identity, why should there be a conflict? Why should there be a need for demands? It is Natural for many interests to be considered, but not all interests met. This can be accepted if people trust the decision-making process. Anyone can accept the decision that no money is available, but they have difficulty with decisions where no money is available and yet money appears to being wasted. In the Natural Order of things such decisions belong in the hierarchy, but in most situations a good hierarchy could be accountable. And when they can't be accountable they can say, trust me it is not right for me to be accountable. Trust is essential in any venture, trust is the basis of good caring, and Natural Path School has to be trusted. If there isn't trust there isn't the school. If the administration sees trust breaking down, that is the first issue of business - how to legitimately build up that trust again, genuine trust based in caring.

Not the trust that comes from the dishonesty of careerists and profiteers that prevails much of the hijacked western system.