The Importance of School Climate and Culture
A just-published, major literature review of the importance of school climate.
A review of some 206 research studies points to the significance of safe, supportive, and civil climates in K-12 schools that “promote healthy relationships, school connectedness, and dropout prevention.”
The study reports that:
“A growing number of State Departments of Education are focusing on school climate reform as an essential component of school improvement and/or bully prevention. Additionally, an increasing number of educational ministries from around the world and the United Nations’ Children’s Fund are invested in supporting school climate reform efforts.”
And what are the outcomes of a healthy school climate? A virtual cornucopia of benefits, ones that we as educators all desire for children, staff and faculty, and other members of the school community: increased academic achievement, increased self-esteem, emotional and psychosocial health, better and more civil, caring relationships; lower rates of absenteeism; reduced bullying, harassment, and violence; reduced substance abuse; and lower rates of reported psychiatric issues.
“The core characteristics of a liberal education, specifically the development of rational, critical, and imaginative thinking, rest on positive school climate.”
The authors make a point that will be obvious to all of us who are involved in CityU learning efforts: “The process of teaching and learning is fundamentally relational.” The issue, then, is the nature and quality of those relationships.
The review also examines how such supportive, safe, and civil climates can be nurtured and developed. As you might well know, as the authors state: “Studies about the implementation of character education programs have suggested that the most effective programs are those that are incorporated into the school curriculum and developed holistically with the school community.”
The authors themselves are involved in such efforts, and their work will be interesting to follow.