Circle of Courage

Dr. Steve VanBockern, co-founder of the Circle of Courage educational philosophy

Our conceptual framework, the Circle of Courage, is based on a model of youth empowerment supported by contemporary research, the heritage of early youth work pioneers and Native American philosophies of child care. The model is encompassed in four core values:  belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity. The central theme of this model is that a set of shared values must exist in any community of learners, including public education and teacher training institutions, to create environments that ultimately benefit society. The term reclaiming is used in this model because reclaiming environments meet the needs of both the individual and society. The Education Department strives to create a reclaiming environment for its teacher candidates and dispose them to create classrooms and schools that exemplify all four values of the Circle of Courage.

Belonging, the first value in the Circle of Courage, recognizes that students need to attach to caring adults in order to begin the process of learning and incorporate basic social values.

Mastery, the second value in the Circle of Courage Model, promotes the belief that teacher candidates need to develop social, intellectual, and academic competence if they are to become capable and responsible citizens.

Independence, the third value in the Circle of Courage model, contends that to develop positive autonomy and interdependence, individuals must be secure in the guidance of caring adults and believe they have some power over their world.

Generosity is the fourth value in the Circle of Courage and advocates that a positive learning environment must be characterized by a climate of caring so that all involved support one another and cooperate in making their social and academic experiences meaningful.

The mission of the Education Department is to empower students with the tools needed to create learning environments that ensure belonging, mastery, independence and generosity.  This mission is grounded in a philosophy that integrates the best of Western educational thought with the wisdom of the indigenous Native American culture of the region and emerging research on positive youth development.

Click HERE to read the Conceptual Framework Narrative