by Jane Searle
“A person cannot teach another person directly; a person can only facilitate another’s learning” (Rogers, 1951).
This sums up the notion of current teaching practice and also the approach that CASSE aims to take within schools. CASSE believes that bullying is not something that will be eradicated by way of a teacher passing on information, and that typical step-by-step bullying programs are not effective.
CASSE sits nicely alongside many student centred educational theories. Theorists such as Dewey, Piaget and Rogers helped us as educators to understand that schooling is most beneficial when it is social, interactive and experiential. When children have the opportunity to be a part of their learning and when they can learn through doing they are better able to construct new knowledge into consolidated previous understanding.
As teachers we have implemented these theories into practical approaches within schools through play based and project based programs and seen great successes. Such approaches to learning allow children to practice and build on social, emotional and life skills such as decision-making, independence, problem solving, risk taking, negotiating, cooperating and collaborating.
CASSE is using psychoanalytic approaches alongside these educational theories to implement a project within schools that aims to shift the social construct positively so that children can be a part of a safe and supportive school environment. Rather than the teacher passing on content the children are able to work from the base of current understanding then construct new understanding with the support of facilitating teachers.
To make a cultural shift away from bullying within one school a teacher must first understand what is happening for the children at the school. They must listen to the children and work with them to create a shared understanding of the schools social construct and to understand the power dynamics and the roles that are taken on by a bully, victim and bystander.
Children who are a part of CASSE are able to direct their own learning and understanding in regards to the topic of bullying. Mentalising is a major component of CASSE and being able to think reflectively and empathically about the feelings of ourselves and others, and recognise how these feelings affect behaviours, is paramount to understanding bullying and being able to think like an ‘upstander’.
CASSE does not aim to provide a prescriptive process but rather one that promotes teachers taking on a facilitating role and one that allows input from the children. Through this process children can become a part of their own learning and better understand the process of bullying. Once this understanding is formed they are better equipped to take on (and also promote) the role of an upstander.
Jane Searle is a Facilitator with CASSE’s School Program. Jane Searle is Primary teacher and recently completed a Graduate Diploma of Child Psychotherapy through Monash University. She is also a leading teacher at a primary school and deaf facility where she teaches in the classroom and also coordinates student wellbeing across the school.