September 20, 2019

Mini-Musings:The McGillis School Takes Action in Repairing The World

By Liz Paige, Director of Ethics and Cultures

Our School’s purpose is “to create individuals committed and able to repair the world. This universal purpose, Tikkun Olam, is one we share with all who seek to better our world and the lives of all people.”

As educators, teaching our students to think critically and recognize the challenges around us seems like the best place to start. Before we can offer solutions, we must first learn that human beings, i.e. “us”, are where biases begin, where environmental damage stems, and where imbalances in power and resources occur. We believe that when we recognize our own individual roles -- from relationships with friends and family to contributing to our nation’s carbon footprint -- then we are also able to recognize our power to make changes in our actions to repair the world.

“Ms. Liz, I filled someone’s bucket today,” said an excited Kindergarten student. Another chimed in, “my friend filled my bucket when she gave me a hug after I got hurt on the playground.” Inspired by the lesson of Carol McCloud’s book Have You Filled a Bucket Today?, our youngest students are learning to recognize the impact of their actions on others and how they can repair the world around them by being respectful, apologizing, and being kind. This is Tikkun Olam/Repairing the World in action.

A fifth-grade student, Emil, recently approached Jim Brewer and me to offer a solution to a problem that he sees in our community. “Our ‘no idling’ signs are gone from around the school,” he said. “May I organize my classmates to make new signs to put around the school to remind people to not idle? I’m sure my mom will help, too.” Jim and I were thrilled that this Lower School student recognized a need and offered a creative solution of student-made signs. This too is Tikkun Olam/Repairing the World in action.

This past week, an eighth-grader, Clare, was inspired by the Swedish 16-year old climate activist Greta Thunberg’s call to action to pressure the world’s governments to increase their efforts on behalf of the environment. The McGillis School student presented her idea to our Middle School Director Tim Campbell and with the support of the faculty, Middle School students who chose to participate took action in solidarity with students and environmental allies in 150 different countries on Friday, September 20. This is also Tikkun Olam/Repairing the World in action.

Last weekend, I spoke to the mother of a former McGillis Student. She shared how her son recently stood up to classmates on behalf of another classmate who wears a hijab to school. “I know he did this because of what he learned at McGillis. He felt empowered to say something, to support her in her traditions, and to do what is right. Sure, we talk about these things at home but he did it because it was instilled in him at McGillis.” This is Tikkun Olam/Repairing the World in action.

What actions are you taking to repair the world?