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The Work: Keeping Kids Safe, Happy and Learning

By Mark Weiss, Director of Education, Operation Respect.

Author’s Note: This is a test run for what I hope to be a “series.” The next blog post will be entitled Season 1, Episode 1 (S1, E1), and there you have it’”the ruminations of someone who thinks that his blog posts are akin to a TV series. And who hasn’t noticed that we’re living in an age of narcissism?

I have spent the past twelve years with Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary on a project he co-founded called Operation Respect, offering music, curricular tools, and ways of being in classrooms and schools, to achieve what all parents and guardians ask for their children’”are my kids safe and happy, and then, are they learning? We have traveled the world’”from Hong Kong to Israel, from Palestine to Ukraine, and “all over this land” bringing the message of the “Don’t Laugh at Me” song and activities and its positive correlative, “please be my friend.”

We are now about to add a new dimension to our work, engaging in a partnership linked to the idea of heart centered education as envisioned by Dr. Christine Mason and a team of her colleagues at the Center for Educational Improvement. Christine brings an abiding interest and experience with mindfulness, brain research, and classroom rigor. We at Operation Respect bring an abiding passion about how we as educators, all of us, deliver what we seek to share and what we want our children and young people to learn. We care deeply about what we do, but we care even more deeply about how we do it. These past few months have brought us together with many, many contacts, friends and colleagues in this field that some call social and emotional learning, others call character education, and that Peter often refers to as whole child education or “the other side of the report card.”

I’ll be blogging to let readers know what we’re up to, what we’re thinking about, how things are proceeding, how the pieces of the puzzle are progressing, and we’ll be listening to you to get sense of how you do the work and what’s needed to do it well in schools and school communities where the challenges are so great.

What do you think about all of this? I look forward to hearing from you.

See you next time…


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