I live in Los Angeles. It’s the epicenter of health crazes and fitness influencers. I’ve worked out at Gold’s Gym where Arnold Schwarzenegger - the actual Terminator - lifts weights. I’ve failed enough times at utilizing my gym membership to know this: habit change takes a concerted effort over time to see meaningful results.
The repeated wisdom from every blogger and bodybuilder would tell you that, no matter how much you work out, the magic is in lifestyle change. It’s what you eat. It’s the discipline of getting consistent sleep.
Equity work and developing a school culture rooted in social and racial justice cannot be a weekly exercise routine. It certainly can’t be distilled into a diet pill.
It won’t happen in one incredible lesson plan or a 30-minute advisory period.
Creating equitable learning environments and teaching young people to be actively anti-racist is about lifestyle change. The workouts are important, but the real work is in all the in-between moments. It’s nutrition, rest, and the accountability of thoughtful mentors and peers.
At CharacterStrong, we are committed to more than relegating racial justice to a few lesson plans. This work must be woven into the fabric of all that you do - much like social-emotional learning and character development.
Here’s what you can expect from us over the coming months leading up to a new school year:
- A tool for adults to do their own work before approaching this work with students. Anti-racism teaching will backfire if it’s being delivered by an educator who isn’t equipped with anti-racist education.
- An educator guide “connecting the dots” between the concepts our lessons teach (growth mindset, emotional regulation, empathy, civil discourse, respect) and how they can be thoughtfully integrated into conversations around social justice, allyship, and equity.
- Ongoing resources, links, and webinars with experts in the field to bolster our collective understanding of how this work and education must work hand in hand.
Let’s not let this work be a New Year’s Resolution. It cannot be a weekly workout class.
There’s no magic pill or quick fix. For real results, we must all commit to disciplined effort over time and deep integration of this into our lifestyle, not just the occasional lesson plan. We are committed as an organization to researching, listening, and learning to better serve all students, staff, and families that our work impacts.
Here to do that work with you,
The CharacterStrong Team
Houston Kraft is the co-founder of CharacterStrong. He is a professional speaker and kindness advocate who has spoken at over 600 events internationally. Student Body President in High School, Class President at Bowdoin College, Leadership Camp Staff for 14 years in Washington - he is a lifelong learner of character, culture, kindness, and leadership. He was featured in 2019 on BBQ Lays Potato Chips and his mom's lasting life lesson is "Hug like you mean it."