OVERVIEW OF RELATIONAL EDUCATION
Excellence in education is a product of good relationships – and the ability to contribute to family and society is one of the most powerful impacts education can have.
- Across most of the world, successive governments look at what an economy requires and then adapt the education system to its needs, rather than beginning with relational infrastructure and developing the individual’s capacity to relate to different people in different roles and situations.
- Changing economic and cultural imperatives mean that every education system internationally is in a state of continual and systematic reform, with successive governments sometimes intervening and reversing previous changes.
- A meta-analysis of 52,637 studies of education published by John Hattie in 2009 concluded that the factor most likely to impact educational outcomes was the quality of a teacher.
Revising the goals
Primary and Secondary models of schooling increasingly reflect the end-use to which they will be put. We think of students as an input to an economic system. An education system founded on Relational principles considers the purpose of education as less about personal development and more about empowering the individual to contribute to the political, organizational and social worlds of which he or she will be a part.
Relationships as educational content
Relational Education places in the foreground three relationships – with family, with community (local, national, international) and with the natural world. Education therefore addresses the question of how students relate to what is around them. Learning to relate to others is where a person’s sense of identity and belonging begins. In other words, relationships dominate not just the mechanism of education but the content.
The correlation between relational breakdown and poor educational outcomes is well documented. The problems created by poor or dysfunctional home relationships lead to low levels of motivation and achievement of pupils in schools, and conflict and/or loneliness among communities, families and individuals across society. Moreover, those achieving low educational outcomes are also more likely to then experience poverty themselves.
Relationships matter not just in the classroom, but in the support that children receive at home, and in the liaison between professionals in the teaching profession.
Support parent involvement
This means implementing intervention programmes designed to help children improve core skills whilst encouraging stronger bonds between: parents and their child; parents and their child’s school and between parents and the wider community.
Help schools connect
Schools that improve, and sustain improvement, engage the community and build strong links with parents. Where schools build positive relationships with parents and work actively to embrace racial, religious, and ethnic and language differences, evidence of sustained school improvement can be found.
Emphasize Relational teaching
Students who develop positive relationships with teachers achieve stronger academic outcomes. Where relationships are strong in the classroom, they can surmount social inequality; where they are poor or dysfunctional, evidence suggests they reinforce educational disadvantage.
Repair broken links
The existence of positive peer-to-peer relationships in schools correlates well with student motivation, student engagement and academic outcomes. Schools have noted significant reductions in the frequency of reported racism where efforts have been made to gather students and teachers around a table and conduct mediated sessions to repair and strengthen relationships.
Relational Schools Project