Katherine Evans and Dorothy Vaandering (2016) define restorative justice in education as “facilitating learning communities that nurture the capacity of people to engage with one another and their environment in a manner that supports and respects the inherent dignity and worth of all” (p. 8). Evans and Vaandering (2016) tell us that restorative justice education is a model of education in which “our individual and collective well-being is enhanced less through personal striving than through collective engagement and support” (p. 8).
Engagement and relationship-building is truly at the core of restorative justice education. Teachers engage with “students, students’ parents/caregivers, colleagues, curriculum, and educational institutions in a way that honors individuals in the context of their communities” (Evans & Vaandering, 2016, p. 12-13). A sense of togetherness is fostered in such a way that traditional roles and the colonial-educational framework (standardized testing, teacher-centred classrooms, micromanagement, limited personal development, etc.) are no longer necessary. As we make the shift to be more centred in Indigenous education and knowledge systems (awareness, belonging, story-telling, holistic, community engagement, etc.), student minds are no longer viewed as empty banks that need filling. Educators are no longer expected to “mold students, as if they were inanimate objects” (Evans & Vaandering, 2016, p. 12-13). Restorative justice education creates spaces of shared learning and teaching.
Adapted from the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation video: Understanding and finding our way: Decolonizing Canadian education.
For more information about Indigenous education and how it contrasts with the colonial-style education model in Canada, please see the video "Understanding and Finding Our Way: Decolonizing Canadian Education," linked below.
While we may still be bound to assigning grades to our students, we must find ways to honour, rather than measure our students (Evans & Vaandering, 2016).
Ask yourself: Are you honouring or are you measuring?
Reflect on your lesson plans.
Reflect on your interactions with students.
Guide students to reflect on their choices in the classroom.
Permission to share these pieces of information has been graciously granted by Dr. dorothy Vaandering. See "The Little Book of Restorative Justice" for specific references.
Evans, K., & Vaandering, D. (2016). The little book of restorative justice in education. Good Books.
Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation. (2021, June 21). Understanding and finding our way: Decolonizing Canadian education [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWkPBm_0C1s