A perspective from Mike Levy, Head of Middle School and PKS Father
As many of you know, I have a P3 student here at PKS, and a 2-year-old son whom I hope will join us when he is old enough. Both kids were in the car with me on Thursday morning as I tuned in to the Judiciary Committee hearings in which Dr. Christine Blasey Ford courageously told her story.
I found myself feeling confused, and a bit helpless, as I tried to balance my civic impulses and my fatherly impulses. My civic impulse was to learn as much as possible about these important events. My fatherly impulse was to worry about my children hearing wrenching testimony from a survivor of sexual assault, and to protect them from hearing too much.
Each of us must find our own way as parents in moments like these, and I hope we treat each other with kindness and compassion regardless of our politics and our parenting style.
Simultaneously, PKS as a school must have a clear, consistent approach to teaching kids about sexuality, safety, decision-making, and respect. So a few reminders about how we, as a school, help insure that all students are good decision-makers, upstanding citizens, and treat themselves and others with dignity.
In preschool and early elementary, our work with students focuses on empathy, decision-making, and building strong executive functions. A preschool teacher asking a student to step into another student’s mindset after a toy has been taken; a kindergarten teacher using restorative justice principles to mend feelings after a fight; or a second grade teacher asking an entire class to problem solve, together, when a community norm has been ignored… this work is the best way to help children form the foundation they need to be responsible decision-makers. Relying on authority and punishment to gain obedience is expedient, but it does not put children on the path towards responsible, moral decision-making.
Beginning in fourth grade, PKS students have their first formal units on Human Development. Parents are invited to a PKS学习 | PKS Learns with Charis Denison, a nationally renowned educator who helped us create our Human Development curriculum. Students learn about puberty and sex, and begin an ethics curriculum. One of our main goals during this time is to make sure every child has an “askable” adult in their life. (Learn more about the concept in this piece, “How To Talk To Young People About the Kavanaugh Story.”)
In middle school, students begin each day in an Advisory block. On most days, this is a time to practice mindfulness, to discuss current events, and to build community. Our Human Development, decision-making, and ethics curriculum is woven into this daily block of time.
Our school approach is to learn through dialogue. If you have any questions about our curriculum or feel as confused as I often do as a parent, come talk to us!