All relationships, experiences and interactions are opportunities for the explicit nurturing of character attributes.
As teachers striving to increase awareness of our power and reflect on its use, our efforts to question and counter adultism define our role as allies. Diminishing the power imbalance between young people and adults by sharing our power is a long-term goal and an ongoing process.
Our Professional Learning Module for teachers Promoting Equity and Inclusive Education in Schools presents ten tools for becoming an ally: someone who promotes reflection and inner change. These tools enable individuals to increase their capacity as allies for marginalized groups (See Becoming an Ally). The tools serve as a basis, a starting point for work that is ongoing and cyclical. They help stimulate thinking about the ways power operates in relationships, leading to greater recognition and understanding of power dynamics in action.
In this section, we examine what can emerge if we approach our relationships with students from the standpoint of adult allies. Drawing on our reflection and critical examination of our privilege, how can we take the next step? How can we envision our role as teachers sharing our power with students? In this section we propose a series of interconnected and overlapping elements to shape and understand this role with many examples of their practical application.
It is worth noting that each element discussed in this section can be more effectively implemented with the aid of COPA’s unique approach to problem-solving using empowerment (See Problem-Solving). This approach is fundamental to our practice in schools as allies, and as facilitators of youth empowerment.
Choosing to be an ally for young people is a personal stance for each one of us. If we are to share our power with young people, we need to genuinely and passionately believe in their potential and wisdom. Embracing this vision is a precondition for character development.