The Ubuntu rhythm is love.
Rhythm is the heartbeat of a song.
Love is the heartbeat of Ubuntu.
Yet, this love goes beyond the “I love my students” love. It is the uniting of two Greek terms for love: AGAPE and STORGE. It is the marriage of agape love, a selfless, empathetic love for the world, both physical and human, and storge love, the instinctual, deep love a parent has for their child. Ubuntu love requires teachers, before the first day of school, to claim their students as their children. When we choose to see our students as our children everything changes. In a blink, we have skin in the game, our skin. This love leads us to discipline, critique, encourage, and challenge our students in a different and powerful way. Through Ubuntu, the struggles of a challenging student become our struggles. Ubuntu peels away our lens of frustration and brings the student, their struggle, and their hurt into view in a profound and endearing way. AGAPE and STORGE are the roots/the beat of Ubuntu.
The Ubuntu melody springs from
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s tenets
1. Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. It is active nonviolent resistance to evil.
2. Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding. The end result of nonviolence is redemption and reconciliation.
3. Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not people. Nonviolence recognizes that evildoers are also victims.
4. Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform. Nonviolence willingly accepts the consequences of its acts.
5. Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate. Nonviolence resists violence to the spirit as well as the body. Nonviolence love is active, not passive. Nonviolence love does not sink to the level of the hater. Love restores community and resists injustice. Nonviolence recognizes the fact that all life is interrelated.
6. Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice. The nonviolent resister has deep faith that justice will eventually win.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. (n.d.). Six principles of nonviolence - the Martin Luther King, Jr ... Six Principles of Nonviolence. Retrieved April 19, 2022, from https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/sites/mlk/files/lesson-activities/six_principles_of_nonviolence.pdf
The six daily components
nurture individual and collective
nonviolence and create Ubuntu’s harmony.
1. Circle of Family
2. Lighting a Spark
3. Mindfulness Moment
4. Recognizing Problems/Seeing Solutions (In me, in our “family,” and in the world)
5. Cultivating Voice: Music, Poetry, and Prose
6. Circle of Communion
ESTABLISHING THE CIRCLE
We begin each day by coming to the circle.
This beginning reminds us we are a family,
we are connected. When we choose to be a family,
we choose to love each other differently. We want the best for each other. When we come to the circle each morning, we join hands and give the hands we are holding a gentle, quick squeeze. A squeeze that says, “I know you are here with me, in my family circle.” After the squeeze, we drop our hands and have a seat, maintaining the circle.
The symbol for Ubuntu is a circle with three dots placed outside the circle. The symbol represents three people, with their arms extended, forming a circle. It means I am a human because I belong. I participate. I share. Create a class-specific Ubuntu circle with exterior dots representing the number of people in the room—students, teacher, aid, etc. Display this as a reminder of the circle of family.
LIGHTING A SPARK
In our family circle, we each light a spark
to start the day. It is our way of thinking about
whom we want to be today, how we can make
today better for others, or maybe what we hope
to accomplish. A spark might be something to make everyone feel excited about the day. It might be a character trait we want to emulate such as love, patience, joy, kindness, goodness, gentleness, peace, or self-control.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Center (2020, September 30). Leadership Seminars. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center. https://mlkfreedomcenter.org/leadership-seminars/
Ubuntu is a way of life. It is the uniting of practice
and spiritual insight. When we tap into our spiritual
side, we carve space for awareness and self-knowledge.
We can see the violence in the world around us and
the violence within us. Incorporating the practice of mindfulness into the day
provides a path towards inner peace, a path necessary for cultivating peace. By teaching mindfulness, we put in place the building blocks for a life grounded in Ubuntu. Mindfulness is shown to increase focus in children and help them self-soothe. Learning to be present, to appreciate and absorb each moment, is an incredible vehicle that has the potential to guide us towards profound understanding. Mindfulness provides our minds with a break from the chaos of the screen-filled world and teaches us, teacher and student alike, to be present with one another.
Reverend James M. Lawson, Jr. created a four-step
method for bringing about societal change: focus,
negotiation, direct-action movement, and follow-up.
While these steps were created for protests and
movement, they are applicable and important in this philosophy. For younger students, these steps require modeling.
FOCUS: In Ubuntu, we teach children to look for problems occurring around them, not for an opportunity to tattle but for a chance to be a problem solver/peacemaker.
NEGOTIATION: After recognizing a problem, students consider possible solutions and share them with those in the conflict or their teacher. For younger students, modeling these steps is necessary.
DIRECT-ACTION MOVEMENT: This skill is first cultivated by teaching students to creatively consider just and restorative solutions for the problems they identify. Secondly, students are encouraged to be verbally and/or physically part of the solution.
FOLLOW-UP: This step occurs in the closing circle.
Lawson, J. M., Honey, M. K., & Wong, K. (2022). Revolutionary nonviolence: Organizing for freedom. University of California Press.
CULTIVATING VOICE: MUSIC,
POETRY, & RHETORIC
Voice is the key to cultural power. By training
student voices, we prepare them to be thoughtful
individuals, powerful communicators, and community
leaders. The selection of music and poetry should directly relate to the students’ culture and community.
MUSIC: Music is activism. Students learn to raise and unite their voices via songs
that identify injustice, call for action, and/or memorialize the past.
POETRY: Poetry is activism. Reading aloud and memorizing activist poetry empowers and educates students. It creates space for considering other perspectives. When BIPOC students create and share poetry they stand against societal silencing.
RHETORIC: Speaking and writing are activism. Persuasive writing and speaking cultivate voice. Rhetoric training begins with a reminder of the Circle of Family—a safe and uplifting space is necessary. Daily writing prompts train students to write from the heart. Empowerment comes from vocalizing their work and accepting peer coaching.
CIRCLE OF COMMUNION
This closing circle occurs at the end of each day.
Again, the teacher and students join hands in a circle,
give a quick hand squeeze, and have a seat. This is a
time for reflection and acknowledgment of our unity.
This is also the space for Rev. Lawson’s follow-up step.
Students are encouraged to reflect on the school day. They can discuss problems, suggested solutions, and ideas for improvement. They can share witnessed moments of unity or positivity. In the safety of the circle, students are free to own their role in a conflict, seek forgiveness if necessary, and lay it down for a fresh start the following morning. The circle is closed by reciting these statements adapted from the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I stick with love.
I can be great because
greatness is determined by service.
For the sake of humanity,
I will keep moving.
I will build the world house.
THE SCHOLARS CLUB
In addition to the six daily elements, we have Ubuntu's
harmony, simultaneous voices of nonviolence
found in the form of a Scholars Club. The scholars club is
an option for every student. It provides an alternative for
students stuck in the cycle of poor choices/disciplinary measures and those craving an opportunity to take their education to the next level. The club prepares students to be leaders/peace activists in their communities and builders of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s global world house.
Based on Dr. Clayborne Carson's unique approach to teaching youth outside Stanford University's educational system, members will be sent a link with their study focus. They might be asked to read part of a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., watch a video about part of the Civil Rights Movement, examine a historical document, and/or do nonviolence research.
Once a week, scholars will gather during lunch to discuss the assignment. Students come to the Scholars Club with thoughts or questions about what they watched or read.
Scholars club members are students that are studious, committed, motivated, and strong. They lead by example in ALL of their classes. Members must be actively and positively engaged in their classes.
Scholars Club members wear a club lanyard while at school. The lanyard lets students, teachers, administrators, and staff know they are a leader and a scholar.
ANYONE CAN APPLY. Learning challenges and academic struggles do not prevent students from being accepted. They just have to be committed. The weekly link will be adapted for individual learning styles.
Discipline issues, referrals, etc. will result in a temporary or permanent loss of membership.
Applications must be signed by a parent or guardian.
Scholars Club members wear the club lanyard while at school, identifying them as a scholar.
Over the course of the year, students will meet with important scholars and activists from around the world via Zoom, as well as, local officials and judges.
Members will be given a club journal for recording their thoughts and ideas.
Overall, students cultivate their voices, channel their power, and become engaged, nonviolence activists while bettering themselves, their schools, and their communities.