Gender Analysis is Key
Toronto, Ontario - In late February, the Ontario Ministry of Education and Training Violence-Prevention Secretariat placed an order for 500 copies of Healthy Relationships. Following the Secretariat's order for 200 copies in 1995, this is the largest single order that has been placed as of presstime.
Under Ontario's new Violence-Free Schools Policy, all publicly-funded schools were required to have a violence-prevention policy and implementation plan in place by September, 1995. In 1995, the Secretariat assisted by providing each of the Province's 175 school boards (representing 5,500 schools) with selected violence-prevention learning materials, and Healthy Relationships was among them.
As the fiscal year end approached (April 30, 1996), the Secretariat chose to allocate some of its remaining funds to an additional purchase of educational materials in support of the Violence-Free Schools initiative.
"I know, of all of the materials we've sent to our (five) regional offices," explains Dr. Pat Kincaid, Provincial Co-ordinator, Violence Prevention Secretariat, "that is the one that has been the most requested. Thus, our order. This was not paid for by the Ontario Women's Directorate. We're using the Ministry's own money because I wanted to ensure that this Ministry itself was making a commitment to this curriculum."
Kincaid says the strength of Healthy Relationships lies in its gender analysis. "It's the base we look for in all of our curriculum documents. So many materials are not properly based with that kind of understanding and those kinds of principles. We've had a lot of problems with schools doing conflict resolution entirely separated from any understanding of the gender issue. It warms the cockles of the heart. The context is just crucial."
Dr. Pat Kincaid
She adds that the gender component of violence-prevention was of particular significance in the study that was conducted by the Centre for Research on Violence Against Women and Children in London in 1994. The findings were reported in Educating for Change: Recommended Materials on Violence Against Women and Children, released in 1995, and Healthy Relationships was the only curriculum recommended for secondary school use. It was recommended for elementary school students as well.
"Some people say, 'I don't know what you mean by gender issues being dealt with appropriately,' so this is ideal," continues Kincaid. "And now it's supported by the evaluation from the Centre. It's also very helpful for school boards who say, 'Well, I'm not going to buy materials unless they've been evaluated.' So, now you have it."
If Kincaid were still teaching, she would be using Healthy Relationships in history and contemporary studies classes because of the social issues the curriculum deals with, and she would likely be adapting it for use in grades five and six as well.
"If I were doing more work as I used to do in staff development," she adds, "with teachers and with social workers, I would use it because people need to see what a document looks like when it has the appropriate context.
"If I were a school board superintendent, I would want to do a session with principals and vice-principals--like train the trainers--and then with their own school staff."
In the Secretariat's early days, Kincaid's office instigated a series of awareness sessions to present a comprehensive context for school-based violence-prevention initiatives, and she says those efforts are now paying off. "We built, to some extent, a comfort level. Without that, people would not be ready to buy Healthy Relationships. They understand the issue, and they want good materials to be able to use with each other and with students."
Finally, Kincaid sees the lack of gender bias in the title as a plus. "If it had been titled 'Women in Relationships' it wouldn't have been so popular. A lot of people are still having difficulty with women's issues. Women's issues are seen to be radical and anti-male. (Healthy Relationships) looks at stereotyping of both men and women as victims of socialization. It's not one half of the population that's at fault."
N E W S L E T T E R
- Curriculum Selected for Three-Year Evaluation
Update February 1997
"Our research assistants are excited and challenged by what is going on in the classroom, and we are very pleased with the response we're getting from school administrators and teachers."
- A Challenge for Educators
"On the basis of time alone...the entertainment industry is the first curriculum in young peoples' lives."
- The Making of this Curriculum
"We began to look for proactive ways to take responsibility for male violence, and to contribute towards the evolution of a violence free society."
- In Ontario, Gender Analysis is Key
"HRC looks at stereotyping of both men and women as victims of socialization. It's not one half of the population that's at fault."
- Educating for Change
Recommended Materials on Violence Against Women and Children.
- Gender Reactions Differ in B.C.
"From her vantage point, Hill has noticed different gender-based reactions to some of the material she's presented."
- Public Health Nurse Uses Healthy Relationships Curriculum
"I'm going to start a project in junior high schools on awareness, violence, and bullying..."
- Multiple Applications in Edmonton
"This material provides a way to stimulate discussion and to develop strategies for intergenerational connections."
- Breaking New Ground With Youth Corrections Programming
"It's been a real plus for us to be able to go to something that's already out there, and to be able to use it as a source of strength."
- Students Promote Zero Tolerance for Violence
"The $64,000 question remains: Is the curriculum actually making a difference in the students' attitudes and behaviours? MacNeil says it is."
- Going to the Heart of the Matter in Dade County, Florida
"The reason your curriculum is so good is because it touches the soul. It goes to the heart of the matter. It is not superficial."
- A Foundation for Other Programs
"Sometimes Healthy Relationships is not used overtly in program delivery. Instead, it's used behind the scenes."
- Children's Aid Uses Healthy Relationships
"The boys have had problems in relation to sexuality...We have found (HRC) a very useful reference and resource."
- Curriculum Supplement: Gender Justice
Some suggestions which expand this unit of the Grade 9 curriculum.
- Organizations that have ordered Healthy Relationships
Update December 1997
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