Curating a Culture of Respect

Activities in the USA

Participating in this cross-cultural school/museum pilot project, with the goal of eradicating violence - at both the micro and macro levels has been interesting and exciting. There are two dynamics that stand out as the most significant - the program development model of "co-creation" and the fact that with this project we are not just supporting the classroom curriculum but we are actually helping teachers to think about what and how they teach in new ways.

This project began with the working title of "The Art of Bullying Awareness and Prevention". In both Williamstown and Strasbourg, the schools did not like this title and instead wanted a more positive sounding title, setting the norm for this emerging model of "co-creation". Over the year, I have met with the teachers and together we have developed activities and projects for the classroom related to the experiences at the museum and the experiences of their French counterparts in the pilot program.

In addition, teachers have considered their regular curricula through a new lens and have made subtle shifts, content-wise and process-wise, in their assignments. New activities included examining the issue of bullying as it is presented in social media, including the difficult conversations about terrorism in current events, open-ended writing activities around human nature and personal control, communication with their French peers around the project, a focus on friendship and the development of a class "zine" titled "Power Through Compassion". The students will use this zine to tell the grade below them (7th graders) about the project (which the 7th graders will do next year) and they will send them over to their French peers as well.

I'm excited to share that the pilot project in both Williamstown and Strasbourg has been a real success in that all who are participating are enthusiastic and find the work rewarding and interesting. Both schools as well as others have enthusiastically committed to continue in co-creating this program with us next year.

Ronna Tulgan Ostheimer, Ed.D.
Director of Adult, School and Community Programs
The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Williamstown, MA 01267
(413) 458-0661