Education of the whole child continues to be a key element in creating a safe, caring and respectful school and community environment. It has been a struggle to find a balance between the social and emotional, the physical-self, teaching and learning in order to educate the whole child. What are the strategies we are using to help all our students find as Dr. Brooks refers to our ‘Islands of Competence’? What are the outside pieces hindering our journey to help every one of our students understand they are capable and valued people and learners.
On Thursday and Friday our school had Sarah Swan present two half-day sessions for our Grade 7 and 8 girls called ‘It is hard being a Girl’. Having the opportunity to go through the evaluations of the girls, it is striking not only the insight they have but the enormous pressures they are feeling in understanding their self-worth. Sarah Swan is an artist, author (Sarah Gordon-Rapture Red & Smoke Grey, served in the military as a field medic, traveller, Facilitator of Art Talk on First Fridays in the Exchange and mother). Sarah uses Art to facilitate conversations about the pressures facing our girls in regards to self-image. I met Sarah when she facilitated an Art-Talk in regards to Andrew Valko and I recommend reading her article entitled “Artists work of female nudes convey dark societal theme” found in the Winnipeg Free Press on July 2, 2013. In her article she quotes Valko as saying “Some of the nudity in the work is there to support the narrative of the paintings. Through my work, I am making a comment about our cultural practice of objectification rather than becoming just another example of it.”
Through using a variety of Art, Sarah is able to lead young girls through a presentation that helps them understand the struggles of creating the many ‘masks’ they feel they need to have in order to be valued. The pressures of media, peers and the images of ‘what girls are supposed to look like’ is hindering their journey to understand their ‘Islands of Competence.’ A few examples of the students’ feedback is:
- Sometimes I feel like I am not good enough, I feel alone
- Everyone thinks I am happy, people don’t know I feel this way
- I don’t have confidence in myself-I don’t like the way I look
- Celebrities think they need to show their bodies on social media and it probably isn’t them
- We are all hiding who we are so no one knows how we feel
- We have to be sexy
The striking piece is these statements are from our Grade 7 girls. Should we be concerned that so many of our young girls’ self-worth is linked to looks rather than other characteristics?
- Your presentation was amazing it made my day. I’m sure you are helping lots of girls including me.
- I learned I shouldn’t post naked pictures of myself on the internet
- I think this helped everyone in the room in a different way
- Every girl should try to be themselves not anyone else
As we watch our students, our children walk into our building, sit in our classrooms, the lunch tables, go out into the community what are the ways we can connect with each of them in a positive way so that we can help every child see themselves as a learner, as important for who they are and what they bring to our community.
Boys and boys’ body image and clothes have become just as important an issue for boys as for girls.
And then God said to me
there is a thing called fearlessness
when your skin and your eyes
flash from one temperature to
another, and in the instant you
know you are capable of giving
over all days and years- all minutes
of your living and dying and tearing
at things with your hands
for they are not yours anyway.
you are made of restraint, and
unrestraint, the space that breathes
between walls that heave and buckle
you are made of tightening strings
as stretched on a violin that sings and screeches a non-orchestra
of wild and hurting sounds.
you are made of limits, and the few
steps just after them that feel so free
and you are made of retreat, and looking
Do not look back, for there are things
stronger than fondness and regret-
there are things for you to tear down
and conquer, there are ruins to stand in
and weep over
the smoke wthat rises will billow long
through old window3s
and then there will be
new work to do.
- Jennifer Lawrence Talks Body Image (elizabethkay25.wordpress.com)
- Body Image: Learning to Love Your Body (geertspico.wordpress.com)
- Help your Teen Daughter Develop a Healthy Body Image (omtimes.com)
- Body image (iamhopefulll.wordpress.com)
- Visit Mel Schwartz’s blog page A Shift of Mind: Rethinking the Way We Live