I started thinking about this blog post a while ago and had written a few notes. In the wake of last weeks election, I am particularly struck by the first line of those notes:
"It's about respect and mutual understanding of what the goals are."
Developing social intelligence, the so-called EI or EQ, requires unscripted and less hierarchical social interactions amongst the relevant parties; in the classroom this is the teacher declining to intervene in some situations that might be remedied quickly by an adult and that require significant discussion by the children to tease out without a dictum from above. Promoting autonomy means the kids need to try (and hopefully) succeed in navigating those delicate social interactions, discomforts and spats without an authority figure stepping in.
[Of course, there are times when the teacher must intervene, but the preference is to allow students to figure out things on their own. The teacher is largely an observer and intercedes only when a student or group is having particular difficulty resolving a conflict or when politely, and directly, asked for assistance.]
At SK, small class sizes and a desire for a strong community require empathy, compassion and some good old fashioned "walking a mile in your shoes." By design there can't be large social divides like cliques, clubs, athletics, or the arts to balkanize the populous into more homogenous affinity groups. We all HAVE to interact with each other.
Perhaps the country will be better off if we can try for some more of that as well.