Do students show more respect and less tendency toward bullying when they start learning, practicing and performing music together?
As a music teacher with lots of hands on experience, I believe the answer to the above question is a resounding ‘YES’. I have personally seen many children benefit from being part of a musical group of some kind.
Let me tell you about ‘el Sistema’. El Sistema was started in 1975 in Venezuela by José Antonio Abreu. At the very start, Jose met with eleven children in a garage to share his love of music with these children.
El Sistema has now grown to be a huge organization with a worthy mission and over 350,000 participants in Venezuela alone. These children all receive free choral and/or orchestral training. The mission of el Sistema is: “to help children and young people in achieving their full potential and acquiring values that favor their growth and have a positive impact on their lives in society” (http://fesnojiv.gob.ve/en/mision-y-vision.html).
El Sistema has now spread to other countries including Canada and the United States.
The five fundamentals of el Sistema are:
1/ Social Change (Main objective is positive social change through musical excellence)
2/ Ensembles (Choral or orchestral)
3/ Frequency (Multiple rehearsals a week)
4/ Accessibility (Programs are free and non-selective)
5/ Connectivity (There are urban, regional and national levels which form a network of services)
I believe children benefit from belonging to a group of some kind where they achieve a positive outcome. El Sistema is one example of such an experience. Children can become surprisingly passionate and devoted to groups of this kind, and they seem to become more respectful, happier and subsequently develop into well rounded individuals. In my opinion, el Sistema is a powerful, positive experience that can increase respect and reduce frequency of bullying occurrences.
Bruce Langford is an anti-bullying advocate located in Ontario, Canada. www.standupnow.ca
Stand Up Against Bullying presentations by Bruce Langford of Stand Up Now Productions were featured at Clearmeadow Public School in Newmarket Ontario.
We presented three assemblies including a Jk-3, grade 4-6 and grade 7-8 assembly. An overall anti-bullying message was shared with the students as well as three sub-messages emphasized throughout the shows.
The overall message was to show Respect. If you truly live your life with respect and truly show respect to others no matter who they are, I firmly believe bullying will decrease. Show respect to family members, community, and at school. Show respect to teachers, staff and other students. Offer to help others as much as you can. I believe that is part of being a respectful person.
Ignore – It is important to understand that ignoring bullying behavior can take the power away from the person doing the bullying. Ignoring bullying does not always work effectively, but it is important to understand it is one effective way to remove power associated with bullying.
Empathy – If everyone truly had empathy, then bullying would be reduced. Empathy is simply having the ability to feel what another person is going through. Being able to imagine the feelings of others helps us all to connect with each other.
Confidence – If you walk with confidence and show confidence in your mannerisms, in my opinion bullying will be diminished. You will find yourself starting to do something about bullying behaviours. You might talk to a teacher, you may find yourself speaking to the person later who was being bullied. You might intervene and say something which will cause the bullying to stop.
Students at Clearmeadow School were very responsive during the assemblies and enjoyed the music, drama and videos. They reacted enthusiastically to the different dynamics of the three assemblies. Mr. Arnis Pukitis, principal at Clearmeadow School had Stand Up Now Productions visit his previous school, Whitchurch Highlands, and wanted to feature them at Clearmeadow.
Stand Up Now Productions helps children and adults learn effective strategies to deal with bullying.
As an anti-bullying week event we visited Sir Wilfrid Laurier public school in Hamilton on November 19, 2012 to present a parent/child presentation called ‘Stand up – Keep Your Kids’.
Dayna Liddle, Parent Council Rep Sir Wilfrid Laurier PS
We had a great audience of receptive parents and children who were eager to learn more about bullying prevention. A group of enthusiastic children arrived early to practice role-plays, which they did with sincere conviction. Parent Council representative, Dayna Liddle, was one of the parents in charge of arranging and overseeing the event. Dayna is obviously adamant about bullying prevention.
We talked about a number of concepts which parents can use to help safeguard their children at home, school, and in their communities. Here is an overview of three strategies we discussed.
The energy a human being exudes often comes across as being positive or negative. It is important to ensure that our children are sending positive vibrations to the world, as in my opinion, this positive energy will also attract positive energy. As parents, it is important to encourage our children to walk with confidence and show confidence in the way they carry themselves. If we are constantly criticizing our children or finding fault with the way they do things, they will develop a low self-esteem that will begin to be apparent wherever they go. Instead, it is important to lift up our children, encourage them, look for the positive, and help them to understand that they are valued individuals who can make a decided difference with their friends or in their community. I strongly believe children who carry themselves in a positive manner, will be targeted less often in bullying situations.
As a parent myself, I understand that it is my job to direct my son if he makes a mistake or does not follow directions. I know I need to be firm and definite about my expectations, however, it is vital that I also help to build up his self-esteem on a continuous basis.
Be Aware of your Child’s Online activity:
When police officers do presentations about cyber bullying, one of the things they talk about is making sure that the computer is in a central place in your home. I also emphasize this very same idea. The computer should not be located at the back of your family room, the corner of your basement or in your child’s bedroom if it is connected to the Internet. Make sure the computer is in a central place like the kitchen or family room where everyone goes. As an adult we are all responsible for making sure we know exactly what our children are doing online. This includes games, research, online chatting, and social media websites such as Facebook or twitter.
Be aware of what your children are doing on-line
Cell phones, video, and YouTube:
Many parents are concerned about their child’s safety, and rightly so. As an effort to keep our children safe many of us provide our children with cell phones. However cell phones usually have many capabilities including cameras and video cameras and GPS. These functions while being very useful can also complicate life and provide interesting tools for would be cyber bullies. If a fight breaks out at your child’s school, someone is likely to pull out a cell phone and start videotaping the event. We all know that it is popular to upload these kinds of videos to YouTube or similar sites. Videos such as this often get a high number of hits and it can be a real perk for a student who is trying to get attention. Also what many parents don’t realize is that YouTube will pay users who get a large number of hits on their site. This can also be incentive to upload videos such as I have described.
As a presenter and anti-bullying advocate, I appreciate the fact that this anti-bullying event was made possible by an Ontario government PRO grant. Thanks to everyone who helped organize and support this event at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Public School in Hamilton.
Yesterday we visited a Toronto Catholic School where the topic of bullying in elementary school is definitely taken seriously.
Georges Vanier Catholic School Principal, Ms. Silvana Reda, is obviously passionate about the topic of bullying as well as child safety. She has discovered many ways to help stop bullying in her elementary school as we were to learn during our visit.
Happy Students: If students feel happy and respected, bullying in elementary school is diminished. That is certainly a belief that I personally share. After presenting hundreds of anti-bullying programs, I have come to the conclusion that one way to reduce bullying in elementary school is to make sure students feel respected, appreciated and happy. There are a number of ways to do this, and I’ve talked about them some of my other blogs. However, students tell me that one of the things that make them feel happiest in school is simply having a sense of belonging. Children want to feel safe, they want to feel included, and they want to feel a sense of importance. Students want to feel empowered in their environment. When you think about it, the same thing is probably true for most of us as adults. Don’t we want to feel safe included an important in our workplace? Don’t those things help us to feel valuable and empowered? I believe the answer is an emphatic yes.
Happy Teachers: I believe the following statements to be true in many cases:
Happy teachers are productive teachers.
Happy teachers generate happiness in their students.
Happy teachers get along well with other staff members.
After meeting thousands of teachers and visiting hundreds of schools, I really believe that a powerful way to reduce bullying in elementary school is to make sure the teachers enjoy coming to their jobs. One person who can help make this happen is the school principal. She or he can create a working environment which puts teachers at ease while at the same time resulting in a productive and creative atmosphere.
Activities: There are many activities which can take place during the school day to remind students about the virtues of respect, kindness and consideration. These activities can certainly help to reduce incidents of bullying around the school. Principal, Silvana Reda gave us a tour of George Vanier School Catholic School pointing out many activities her students had done which were related to respect and bullying prevention. Caring Tree– In the front hall area is a caring tree which reminds everyone in the school about acts of caring which take place at Georges Vanier. Bulletin Board Display– Each class creates an anti-bullying poster monthly which is displayed on the board for all to see. A monthly anti-bullying theme keeps it interesting. Posters – Throughout the school are anti-bullying posters featuring students from Georges Vanier. The messages and designs of the posters were created by students for students and have been reproduced on professionally looking hard board and then permanently mounted on the walls. Murals – The library features a colourful mural around the room on the wall near the ceiling. This mural is very inspiring and makes the room come alive. Announcements – Play song clips, read catchy slogans, or have a ‘respect’ word of the day. Contests – Get everybody involved in contests by offering fun prizes or even giving the winning class celebrity status with the school mascot for a week. If your school mascot is the cougar for instance, have a stuffed cougar which spends time in various classrooms or locations in the school as part of the award system. You could run a poster contest, a write a catchy song contest, a slogan for a month contest or even a math or science contest. Your imagination is your only limit.
So the three key ways to help stop bullying in elementary school are:
1/ Ensure students feel respected, appreciated and happy.
2/ Help teachers be happy in their roles
3/ Bullying prevention and respect activities