In the course of any day at school there are innumerable interactions amongst the children. Most go by largely unremarked. Many are wonderful – acts of kindness and courage; of intelligence and care. And we like to reward these in some suitable way.
But a few of these interactions are less happy. The teachers are all devoted to helping the children meet and resolve these challenging incidents; and, most are dealt with relatively easily as part of the unfolding drama we call life.
One concept which helps the children to resolve their difficulties is above-the-line and below-the-line thinking. If we think of a horizontal line, we have, below the line: Blame, Excuses and Denial. Above the line we have: Responsibility, Acceptance, and Action.
One our aims in building character is to encourage the children to stay above the line; to take responsibility for their actions, to accept events as they roll out, and to act reasonably and appropriately in the face of those events. And, on the other hand, to leave behind blame, excuses and denial. After all, taking an extreme example, say a child out of weakness or malevolence says or does something mean or hurtful to another child. The teacher will, of course, do their level best to prevent a repeat occurrence, and a good way of doing this is to open the eyes of the perpetrator to the effect of his or her actions and, if necessary to surround them with some reasonable disciplinary boundaries.
But the “victim” often has a task before them as well. If they find themselves locked into blame, and excuses and denial of their, perhaps minor part in the drama, they need help to move above the line into the realm of responsibility, acceptance and action.