UBUNTU a Philosophy Used to Develop Character and Citizenship at School
What is Ubuntu?
Ubuntu is a Nguni Bantu term roughly translating to "human kindness." It is an idea from the Southern African region which means literally "human-ness," and is often translated as "humanity toward others." It is mostly used in a philosophical sense to mean "the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity”*.
Ubuntu – From theory to practice
Every school generally has a period/s allocated in the schedule to build character, citizenship and support student needs beyond academics. They are generally referred as Advisory, Home base, Homeroom, Tutoring, Mentoring etc. Below you will find the avenues I have implemented to build practical programs at school based on the Ubuntu philosophy.
Advisory Community – You have an advocate at school.
In an effort to have small groups with one advisor it is important to schedule all teachers, specialist and sometimes even non-teaching staff with advisory groups. Advisors are properly trained and are grouped by professional communities. They have a community team leader and they meet regularly to discuss, preview and enhance the life of students at school using a whole child approach. Team leaders also meet regularly with the principal and counselor and serve as liaisons between Advisors and Administration in matters of communication and logistics. Students are assigned to an advisory group based on recommendation from previous advisors, administration and faculty, in an effort to match personalities, fondness and styles between advisor and advisee. After all, the key factor is that students trust their advisor and see him/her as the first person to go to weather they are having difficulties or looking for a word of advice.
Cycle or Weekly Programs
Intramurals – Collaboration & Team Building
The idea behind ‘intramurals’ is that an entire class meets as a grade level to participate in different games and activities on the fields or the gymnasium organized by the Head of PE. These activities foster collaboration and team building across a particular grade level.
Houses – Life Skills in a Diverse Community
Communities are heterogeneous institutions and in order to prepare students to become productive citizens it is important to develop their skills using a systematic and consistent program. Coming out of their comfort zone and learning to work collaborative with different individuals is one of the key skills students need to learn. Unfortunately it doesn't come naturally or in a one off event, we need to create the structure and promote activities where we teach our students how to acquire and develop such skills. The houses system provides this opportunity and allows students from different grade levels to find solutions or extend on ideas that are practical and applicable in our school and our community for the benefit of all, as a group not as individuals, following again the Ubuntu philosophy.
Students spend a lot of time at school and, in an effort to inspire creativity, imagination and ingenuity clubs have been developed based on student interests. Examples of clubs are robotics, engineering, Lego, arts, craft, cooking, chess, environmental, dance, video-games. One of my favorite clubs and a very popular one amongst students at my current is school called “Dominican Games”. In this particular club an advisor teaches students how to play old school games that kids/teens used to play in the streets decades ago when the only technology available was a wooden radio. One more time I must highlight the importance of creating a time and space, a structure and the availability in the schedule for students to experience this kind of learning activities systematically and consistently.
As mentioned before it is important that every student at a school has at least one advocate. Someone who will take the time and effort to get to know the student better, to know their personal story, to laugh with his/her jokes and have the time and patient to listen to their concerns, fears, ideas and celebrate their accomplishments. Counselors are also part of this group of advocates. The idea is not advisor or counselor, but rather advisors and counselors. We all work together as a village to bring up a child. We understand and live the Ubuntu philosophy. I am because you are, I exist as a person because you are here as a person and we are all connected as a humans enhancing our experience on earth by being kind and caring about each other.
Digital Bytes – Digital Citizenship
Let’s face it, we are not educating our students for the 21st century we are already there! We need to go beyond the first three decades and have the foresight to see what skills will be redeemed the most useful in five or ten years from now. It is no longer enough to be the citizen of one country but rather in an interconnected, interrelated global panorama it is more important than ever to be a world citizen and to learn the skills and competences to be a successful digital citizen. Students are prepared and ready to play with all sorts of gadgets and access all forms of media but, are they ready to learn how to use them safely? Are they aware of the dangers of the digital world? Would they know how to react to cyber bullying? Do they understand the consequences of having a digital print that will follow them for the rest of their life? Digital Bytes is a program by Common Sense Education aimed at answering those questions and teaching students how to be digital citizens.
Even though the Ubuntu Philosophy is spread throughout the entire program, there also needs to be a specific time to work on Ubuntu Projects. Learning and sharing about our humanity makes us grow and create a more fair society. We don’t need to go to Africa to be more kind. We can start by being kind to those around us, at school, at work, in our own community. The Ubuntu projects are spread throughout the year and they focus on learning more about other cultures, religions, traditions and spreading kindness and respect for one another.
An example of a multicultural Ubuntu project can be seen in this video, where students watch ‘the miniature earth project’ where they simplify world statistics in hundreds instead of billions. They then translated those into works of art to form a mural. Each group was in charge of representing a theme or concept such as equality, literacy, natural resources and others and when we collected all paintings, we created a large mural named UBUNTU.
International K12 Leadership & Administration-Father-Sports Aficionado-Focused on Innovation and Excellence-Lifelong Learner-World Citizen