It is easy to understand why our children of The Village Charter School are deprived of the “Cultural Relating Experience.” They live in a “Unicultural Society:” 100 percent black, mothers on welfare, fathers “on leave.” In a recent crisis, eight of 88 mothers showed up for an urgent meeting concerning the future of their eighth grade children: whether to protest the “capping” of the Charter School’s promised ninth grade or to send them on to the violence-prone Chester Upland Public High School.
One in eleven mothers!
No fathers! Ever!
“Cultural Relating” is the cornerstone of all civilization. The most extensive research tells us that it is the pre-potent source of effect in all of the accomplishments of American Civilization. Indeed, it is the necessary but not sufficient condition of “The American Experience.”
“The American Experience” transforms us from the raw material of controlled and dependent human resources into the finished products of free and interdependent human capital. Because I believe fervently in this process, I will share my own experience in Cultural Relating.
First of all, I was a product of the cultural relating of my parents: my German emigrant mother and my American Celtic-Indian father. In other words, I was there at the genesis of my Cultural Relating experience.
When two cultures merge to produce progeny, they generate a third culture made up of the benefits and values of the two cultures. Is not America the story of cultural relating?
Secondly, my earliest experiences involved observing my parents facilitative way of relating to each other as well as to their children and members of their extended family. Most of all, from early adolescence, I studied my father’s relationships with his “men.” As a leader of an independent chemical industry labor union on the New Jersey waterfront, my father related democratically to his 3,500 war-time members. “What would you like to do?” he asked. And together, they proceeded to process the mission and goals and plans of their precious independent union. In other words, I was the beneficiary of extraordinary modeling in sharp relief of the Cultural Relating Experience.
Later on, when by happenstance I became President of the Student Council at my ethnically diverse high school, I fell back upon this learning from modeling. Instructed by the administration’s consultant to the Council of the necessity to employ “Roberts Rules of Order” at all times, I relied upon Dad’s principles to accomplish the same cultural relating mission as my father. I asked for a motion to suspend “Roberts’ Orders” and we voted to do so for the remainder of the school year. Then I asked, “What would you like to do with your time in school?” We installed “Robert’s Process” and went on to a remarkably productive year, installing among other things the first music system playing “our music” in the cafeteria, as we ushered in the first generation of “teenagers” at the beginning of the 1950s.
Thirdly, all of this seemed in preparation for my later work in “Saving Springfield” in the 1960s and 1970s: Called upon by the powers-that-be to save a community that had been surrounded and held hostage by the growing minority population in Springfield, Massachusetts, we initiated a process labeled “Community Resource Development.” Relying upon the same Cultural Relating Process that was modeled by my father, we instructed Andy Griffin, a community leader, to attempt to meet with everyone in the black and brown communities to ask this question: “What would you like to do with the rest of your life?” He asked and they answered intelligently, “We want to be empowered to be every place that impacts us!” We embarked on a remarkably successful Community Resource Development program.
So these are my experiences in Cultural Relating. They gave voice to the experiences of different cultures. They related cultures and classes through communication. They proved to be the difference between success and failure. Everything was possible with relating. Nothing was possible without it. They made “We the People” live. We empowered the people to become policy-makers in designing their own changeable destinies.
The children in our Village Charter School have an excuse for their deficits in experiencing Cultural Relating. We do not! So we must empower them.
What about your experiences in this first critical principle of “The American Experience?” Where did your American journey carry you?