So, it's been a while since my last post. Today I am pondering (no pun intended in reference to title) the toxicity of learning environments. Schools are interesting microcosms of our larger society. It is both fascinating and disturbing to me the issues that pop up in school throughout the year. How and when does a school environment go from safe and comforting to toxic? Who is responsible? Is it one persons' fault or the collective? Attempting to get to the bottom of these questions will be the focus of this post.
Growing up, I often was embroiled in some jr. high girl plot to take down my fellow female counterparts in the social arena. I am not proud of this fact, but I truly believe it has made me who I am today. I made a wonderful friend in grade six that changed my thought process about how I treated others. I owe her a lot for snapping me out of it. Now, looking back I feel that my actions were directly connected with the toxic environment that was my jr. high school. But what it just me? After I started removing myself from that environment, the toxic pit still existed. Why? The ideals of the collective perpetuated it. That "mob" mentality is what creates that environment. More accurately, what RUINS and environment.
Unfortunately, gossip is not only confined to jr. high or high school. It perpetuates the adult workplace all too frequently. Whether you are the person spreading the gossip or the person of interest in staff room conversations, it needs to stop immediately. I am ashamed to say that some people I have worked with in the many jobs I have had throughout my youth and now adult life participate in this activity.
So how does a toxic environment get healed? Well....it needs to start with the people in that environment. If only ONE person changes, it will start, but it won't be enough. It needs to be a shift in perspective. What type of environment do you want to work/live in? Personally, I'd like to come to a place where comfort and emotional/physical/psychological safety are of the highest importance. As Jack Layton so aptly stated..."Let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic and we will change the world."
Mrs. Katherine (Kate) Weber