The students seemed to enjoy the social aspect of the Honor Project and much was uncovered regarding feelings of separation. The following discourse from the Pilot teacher and children speak for their Honor Project experience, but please note that all those involved learned that they had more similarities than differences when they examined a deeper notion of identity, belonging, needs and goals. Here are the comments from Westlake Elementary’s teacher and students:
Don Jacobs, Teacher 6th Grade Honor Project Pilot Program
Q. How did the Honor Project affect you personally and as a teacher?
DJ: “Both personally and as a teacher the project has forced me to re-examine some deeply held beliefs and to become aware of some traits and characteristics which I thought I had left behind years ago. I am a bit more conscious in some of my choices and I tend to place less importance on ‘getting the job done’ and more on ‘doing it in a positive way’. More than anything else, the project has made me aware of how important attitude and belief systems are, and how much work I have to do to liberate my own higher Self.”
Q. How have the attitudes of the kids changed?
DJ: “Most of the kids have become much more open to new ideas, less judgmental of others based solely on “differentness” and a great deal more honest and self-aware. Some kids have actually sort of ‘blossomed’, carrying the ideas of the project into their family lives.”
Q. How was the atmosphere different in your classroom this year as opposed to other years?
DJ: “I think this is the first time we have had an attempt to deal with these issues in a collective way. It has created a feeling of togetherness and unity I haven’t seen in other years. It has also shown me what a BIG task this is and how much work there is to be done!”
Q. Do you have any other comments about the Honor Project?
DJ: “We tapped into the potential of the project. It was like a seed germinating. I’d like to see it expand not only in our schoolroom but in the whole school and our community… and get the parents involved. Seldom do we work together on other goals outside of schoolwork … I learned how strong and powerful a group is when working on the same goal. Working on the Journal questions each day, getting below the first response … it was really challenging to get through the blocks to the meaningful stuff.”
Comments from the pilot program 6th Grade Kids:
Robert: “I learned to be thankful for everything and to have friends and not enemies.”
Jessica: “I learned to treat people differently, even those I don’t like, to give them a chance and now they are my friends.”
Johnny: “I learned not to say the word ‘should’ like — in a shaming way.”
Sego: “If you don’t like a person you don’t have to make an enemy of ’em. Whether a person is a friend or enemy you can treat them equal.”
Mikey: “I liked Sparkle Magic in the storybooks.”
Alisah: “I learned not to make fun of people and to be more open with my mom.”
Jason: “I learned not to hit people.”
Angie: “I learned every human’s special. What goes around comes around and that I have to love myself before I can love anyone else.”