Dr. King and the BWS Star Code

Do you know we learn from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ‘s legacy throughout the year at Berkshire Waldorf School?

Not just this month but every day, our unique teaching tool, the BWS Star Code, is a visual reminder posted throughout the school of our community values based on Dr. King’s work, and a practical teaching tool for social and character education.

The BWS Star Code: Our Agreement

The BWS Diversity and Inclusion Statement refers to our BWS Star Code as a focal point. It’s our “North star,” to help guide faculty, administrators, trustees, caregivers and students in the active practice of inclusion.

Developed in 2009 by students, teachers, and school psychologist Dr. Steve Hoff, the BWS Star Code visualizes the values our school community agrees to uphold.  Since Waldorf Education is not just grounded in child development, but also a social education, the BWS Star Code is posted throughout the school, to remind us all how to work together with respect and appreciation, not only in classrooms, but on the playground, on school buses, at after school activities and sporting events, and with each other outside of school.  

The BWS Star Code was presented to the school community in 2009, to honor Dr. King’s Day and commemorate President Barack Obama’s inauguration. Faculty member Ann Sagarin weaved the values represented by these two individuals into the presentation of the BWS Star Code, acknowledging that the values we practice in our classrooms every day have been passed down to us through the generations.

Grade School teachers use the BWS Star Code in developmentally appropriate ways, including role playing, mixed age group projects (especially revisited each year in honor of Dr. King’s Day) and lively class discussions, to address such topics as teasing and criticizing, peer pressure, Internet safety and healthy human sexuality and identity development. One prescient Middle School teacher reminded her students, working together through the Star Code in class, to remember to be kind to themselves.

Above, some of the books available for students to check out in the BWS library.

Growth Mindset

BWS teachers and administrators are working on two group reading projects this year, to re-enliven our commitment to anti-racism and social justice, as we learn and practice Dr. King’s principles throughout the year.

Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success uses research to help teach that “with the right mindset, you can motivate those you lead, teach, and love—to transform their lives and your own.”

At the heart of what makes the “growth mindset” so winsome, Dweck found, is that it creates a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval. Its hallmark is the conviction that human qualities like intelligence and creativity, and even relational capacities like love and friendship, can be cultivated through effort and deliberate practice.

from “Fixed Vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Live,” by Maria Popova, Marginalian

In My Grandmother’s Hands, Resmaa Menakem posits that biases are not just in the mind, but are stored in the physical body and need to be deeply felt to be healed, so we can grow beyond racism. The book offers a step-by-step healing process that readers can take into their own hands, based on the latest neuroscience and somatic healing methods.

It’s encouraging to understand that we can use the Waldorf way of learning with head, hands and heart to learn and grow at any age, and that by practicing the growth mindset, change becomes about lifelong learning and growth, not fear or failure.

Dr. King reading with his family.

Further Resources:

Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Michael Harriot’s Black AF History.

Read more of Dr. King’s words from parent Lev Natan’s recent post at Alliance for a Viable Future.