ERIC Number: EJ785706
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Reference Count: 30
Building a Just Adolescent Community
Enright, Mary Schaefer; Schaefer, Lawrence V.; Schaefer, Patricia S.; Schaefer, Kristin A.
Montessori Life: A Publication of the American Montessori Society, v20 n1 p36-42 2008
Lawrence Kohlberg, a psychologist, coined the term "Just Community" to describe a community built on trust and resolution, in which each member participates democratically in the development of the rules and regulations that govern their community life (Kohlberg, 1985). In a school, this means that students and teachers alike actively participate in moral discussions about issues involving relationships between students and staff; each member of the community is held accountable to the group (Kohlberg, 1985). As such, the Just Community represents a type of moral laboratory, an opportunity for students to discuss and resolve moral issues that arise, and equally if not more importantly, to "act" morally in accordance with the rules set forth by the group. Kohlberg saw the Just Community as based on the concepts of justice (fairness and equal rights), and benevolence (social responsibility and altruism), and as inspired by a sense of group solidarity. Thus, broadly speaking, the Just Community represents a type of benevolent participatory democracy. The importance of many of the principles underlying a Just Community, such as justice, equal rights, and benevolence, have been recognized for many years. Creating a Just Community among junior high students requires an understanding of the unique developmental characteristics and needs of the adolescent age. In this article, the authors highlight the physical, social, cognitive, and emotional characteristics of young adolescents and the needs these characteristics suggest. Although they discuss these characteristics and needs in four realms, these realms are clearly interconnected in adolescence, just as in earlier stages of development (National Research Council and Institute on Medicine [NRCIM], 2006). The physical changes brought on by puberty heighten social, emotional, and intellectual tensions-- the adolescent is making, at times, the awkward transition from child to adult.
Descriptors: Social Justice, Trust (Psychology), Democratic Values, Educational Environment, Moral Values, Interpersonal Relationship, Altruism, Democracy, Moral Issues, Social Responsibility, Puberty, Developmental Stages, Moral Development, Psychological Patterns, Civil Rights, Junior High School Students, Adolescent Development, Early Adolescents, Emotional Development, Social Development, Cognitive Development, Physical Development, Montessori Method, Montessori Schools
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Junior High Schools
Authoring Institution: N/A