Community of Practice discussion: Trauma and sociocracy in schools

This past Community of Practice we discussed how sociocracy can help heal individual and collective trauma in schools.

To start out with, some members have experienced sociocracy helping to bring a sense of being a part of a group, and deep belonging. People who have experienced trauma have lost this feeling of belonging. In normal school systems, if you’re struggling with trauma there often isn’t space for processing it, as there is so much pressure to teach to the test. However, one ultimately has to have a sense of safety in order to learn. Experiencing group connectedness can help to heal trauma, and give purpose and safety again, as well as allowing space for learning to flourish.

Another school, Grace Cafe, is located in a relatively violent place in comparison to the rest of Capetown statistically, with some of the highest crime rates in Africa. Students coming from home into the space are going from one world to another world. At the school there is a trauma care therapist working with them, helping the school be trauma-informed as an organization. This allows adults and students in high conflict situations, to be active in processing past trauma. Rhythms developing in space including sociocracy create a different dynamic compared to what they’re used to at home, and parents report that students regularly use sociocratic practices to make decisions in their friend groups!

One more insight the group reached had to do with the role of trauma in skillful facilitation. There can be a process of coregulation when a facilitator is on “higher” or more regulated level than the group, in the neocortex rather than the activated limbic system. Facilitation done right can really help the group to coregulate during difficult topics, making sure everyone stays calm and open and curious. As soon as fear kicks in, the ability to hear what others are saying and tp be curious is not possible anymore. Facilitators can model being aware of their own activation and speak to it in the meeting. Ultimately, self-healing and becoming aware of one’s own trauma responses is where magic begins.

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Thanks for capturing this @hope.wilder. It was a great discussion and sharing of ideas and support.