Wednesday, February 23, 2011

an agreement among girls

in a bubble
it seems that in the 4th grade, there is a lot of focus on the social competencies of the girls. any signs of mean girlness are being nipped in the bud. and it can only be a good thing.  i don't think our child is one of the mean girls, but it can be hard to tell.  today, the girls in her class all drafted and signed the following agreement. it's a bit of a 4th grade girl manifesto...

being a girl in grade 4

we know that we feel best and most comfortable and happiest among the girls in our classroom when...

  ~ everyone can play together, across all lines
~ everyone can play together and be good friends
~ nobody is teased or pushed out
~ nobody is ignored
~ an agreement is an agreement
~ we are careful about too many groups
~ we don't talk behind people's backs or gossip about one another, 
but speak properly and directly to one another.
~ we don't send dumb SMSes that can easily be misunderstood

agreement entered into by the girls of grade 4, february 22, 2011:

~ everyone can play together
~ nobody will sit alone when we play, without being asked if they want to join in
~ everyone must be active and try to participate in the play
~ we have to listen carefully to what is said when we make agreements and speak to one another
~ we have to say no with care
~ we will try not to say no during school hours
~ make proper playdates after school and be open to those who come and ask
~ be very careful about playdates (write them in a calendar)
~ take care not to double book playdates
~ teachers can and should talk to the girls about who we will play with and what we will play

* * *

although encouraging fourth graders to keep their appointments written in a calendar worries me slightly, after the tales i recently heard of bullying in the classrooms of the suburbs of chicago, i am very happy that the school takes such a strong stance on bullying. there's nothing worse than mean girls, unless it's mean girls with a packed calendar. 


Maria-Thérèse ~ said...

LOL about the means girls with a packed calendar! Exactly!

"we will try not to say no during school hours"
No is a very useful and necessary word.

"Karen looks stupid, don't you agree?"
"Do you want to go outside and smoke?"
"Should we plant a bomb in the teachers' lounge?"
"Does my hair look okay?"

Maria-Thérèse ~ said...

P.S. Are there no rules for boys?

Tracy Golightly-Garcia said...

Hello Julie

My daughter was bullied at school one time by a girl who bent her finger back. She wanted to see if it would hurt. Trust me it was nipped in the bud very fast--the girl will never be in the same class with my daughter again!!

I agree with Maria-Therese--what about the boys??

Have a nice day

Tracy :)

poet said...

Wow, this is great (even the calendar bit is a useful tip, though admittedly strange). I wish this kind of awareness had been created when I was in fourth grade... and even more so in the years to come, when pre-teen and teenage insecurities really take off and result in lots of meanness to prove oneself cool... though after a certain age, messages like these don't get received with understanding but with mockery, so you have to start early, I guess.

I'm curious, is this an all-girls school, and if not, what did the boys' contract look like? What about boys and girls interacting (I know this is an age where they don't do that a lot :) )?


Anonymous said...

I like that they're requiring themselves to ask others to join them. My parents never stressed that, it was understood, but my friends who were explicitly told to reach out and include turned out to be lovely, sociable beings whom I still love to spend time with today.

Sometimes the gesture really does create the real kindness.

Lost Star said...

Good god I wish this had existed in my 4th grade (or the UK equivalent) and the years surrounding it.

I had a terrible time at this age, up until secondary school really, and teachers just did nothing about it or forced me to play with the people bullying me. This agreement (assuming it is operated upon)seems like a good way of enforcing anti-bullying in a sensible way.

Also, I particularly like the dumb SMS one. We are SO in the C21st!

Kim: said...

I think the manifesto could be applied to many, many different groups. Good for them!

will said...

That's all well and good but what about sports? Say, boxing, karate, MMA, wrestling or judo?

Unknown said...

I can see how this contract (that's what they call it in the US) can mean other contracts if the teachers think they're needed. Nothing wrong with telling the girls how to act so long as it's not restrictive.

julochka said...

maria-thérèse - sabin and i had quite a laugh about the not saying no thing after school - "hey, shall we set fire to the teacher's chair and then go outside and smoke?" but she pointed out that it was a bit more sensible than was more about not saying no to someone who asked to be part of the group. :-) the danes really are quite fornuftig.

BUT, there was no similar discussion among the boys and no similar agreement. sadly, i'm afraid it says more about how how much harder girls are on one another than boys are than about a lack of equality.

tracy - wow, sounds like your daughter's school takes bullying seriously.

poet - it's not an all-girls' school, tho' there are 18 girls and 10 boys in the class - it's an ordinary danish public school.

abigail - that's good to know. and honestly, all of the girls in her class that i've been around are really sweet. i think they are just reaching a sensitive age and there are some who have felt left out (more than pushed out).

lizzi - being forced to play with those bullying you? that just sounds like child abuse!

kim - i can think of at least one workplace where it would be a good idea.

bill - sports are actually not organized by the schools in denmark. they're all outside clubs. believe it or not.

writer lady - i hesitated to use the word contract, as it seemed too heavy. :-) not that manifesto is that much lighter. :-)

spudballoo said...

How lovely to read! And isn't it great that they can talk about such matters and feel they can sign up for such an agreement? Even if they can't all stick to it 100% of the time, the fact they've been through this process is so impressive.

If only we could lock the leaders of every nation on the planet in a room and not let them out until they've come up with something similar, a kind of 'rules for the world'. We'd all be better off.

Lovely post, really touched me. x