Bahai News - Old rule helps kids learn about respect
Old rule helps kids learn about respect
Tuesday, April 03, 2001
By ROXANNE WASHINGTON
PLAIN DEALER REPORTER
During the 1980s, when Elaine Parke was a volunteer tutor in the Head Start
Program at Mary B. Martin Middle School in Hough, Parke sat day after day
with a meek little girl who simply wasn't learning.
"It was frustrating, because she wasn't grasping the alphabet or numbers,"
Parke remembers. "And then one day, I was sitting in the classroom with her,
and this big drunk man burst through the door looking for her. As it turned
out, this guy was her father."
That startling incident was all Parke needed to realize that the child's
comprehension wasn't lacking, her home life was the problem.
"After that happened, I kept one arm around her throughout every session
that I worked with her," Parke says. "In a short time, she knew the alphabet
and was beginning to read. It was obvious this child was starved for positive
attention and was concentrating on me, not what I was trying to teach her.
Once I knew that, everything changed."
During that time, Parke was squeezing volunteer teaching into her demanding
schedule as vice president of marketing with Milo Corp., a defunct hair-care
company in Stow. But that breakthrough with her timid student prompted Parke
to reassess her priorities.
"I asked myself, Why am I spending so much time and effort writing a $13
million marketing plan for hair spray," says Parke, who now lives in
Zelienople, Pa., outside Pittsburgh. "I really wanted to start using my
marketing and media skills to do something to improve society. It was while I
was living in Cleveland when that idea hit me."
Parke has written a book, "Join the Golden Rule Revolution - Practice One
Habit ... Each Month of the Year" (Caring Media International, $19.95). The
Golden Rule itself is worded lots of ways, but the bottom line is to treat
others the way you would like them to treat you. This simple-sentence idea
of mutual respect is tucked into the scriptures of nearly every religion
around the world. Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Bahai, Buddhist, Muslim and other
faiths emphasize the importance of being aware of how our actions affect
others, and to be able to imagine how it feels being on the receiving end of
"Join the Golden Rule Revolution" is divided into 12 chapters, each of which
encourages a positive practice each month. For example, January is "Lend a
Hand" month. February's theme is "You Count," and for March, "Resolve
Conflicts." Each chapter is broken down into a strategy for each day and
peppered with inspirational quotes to help readers deal with road rage,
career rage, high-school shooting rage and every other kind of rage we
Just a tad corny? Yes, Parke concedes. And yet it seems to be doing the trick
for one Pittsburgh-area school.
Parke is part of a nonprofit organization called Habit-tat for Youth &
Education that is dedicated to reducing violence and anger among young people.
Through Habit-tat, in 1988, Parke launched a program called The Caring Habit
of the Month Adventure at Aliquippa Middle School near Pittsburgh. With a
strategy that combines posters, banners and slogans, the program emphasizes
violence prevention and creating a calmer social climate in classrooms. After
two years, the honor roll at Aliquippa increased by 18 percent, the homework
completion rate doubled and detentions dropped 25 percent. After that, Parke
says, the program was named winner in the Pennsylvania Health Department's
Violence Free Youth Challenge contest.
Along with "treat others the way you would like them to treat you," Parke has
another favorite quote, presented early in her book: "We have not inherited
the Earth from our ancestors, we are borrowing it from our children."
"I've done a lot of research and I haven't been able to find out who first
said this," Parke says. "But it stuck with me and it's been a big inspiration
for my work."
©Copyright 2001, THE PLAIN DEALER
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