Trust and the Marble Jar

Miss Amy Woodgate | Head of Junior & Middle School

In a 2015 presentation, Brené Brown, professor and social researcher, shared with her audience a difficult experience her daughter had in primary school.  It was in this conversation with her daughter that Brené used the concept of the marble jar as a way of explaining trust.

Brené Brown – ‘Lessons about Trust

Essentially, the marble jar represents our trust, whether it be with individuals or situations, with the individual marbles being those ‘micro-moments’, those interactions seemingly insignificant yet so powerful.  Brené describes trust to her daughter as being like filling up the marble jar.  It is built slowly over time through small moments or actions, with our behaviours and words being able to build or break trust.

Brené’s message to her daughter was about the power of the daily actions and choices we make and how they influence the relationships we build and maintain.  Although her daughter came home from school that day with marbles removed from her jar, being vulnerable to others and allowing them to add ‘marbles’ to the jar again is what’s most important.

In a recent SCOTS Engage lesson with our Year 8 students, I shared with them the story of the marble jar, specifically discussing the concept of trust in relation to how we lead ourselves, others and our community.  The Year 8 students created their own ‘marble jars’, describing the people they trust and the actions or words that have added ‘marbles’ to their jar.  We also discussed how it makes us feel when ‘marbles’ are added to our jars or when they are taken away.

SCOTS Engage has been introduced as a new subject in Year 8 this year, complementing our existing Pastoral Care and Wellbeing sessions that are run by Tutor Teachers.  SCOTS Engage is about connecting with who we are as individuals, as a group and as members of our community.

We know that our Middle School students, as young adolescents, have unique needs.  They have a desire to be more independent, yet at the same time seek meaningful interactions with their peers and with significant adults.  They crave freedom and support simultaneously, whilst also navigating social, emotional and physiological changes.  It can be a time of ‘shifting sands’ – changes in relationships, changes in expectations and a change in understanding who they are and their place in the world.

The SCOTS Engage program has been developed with these understandings in mind.  Throughout the year, we will be exploring a range of topics and themes, ranging from ‘BIG’ concepts like trust and bravery, through to more practical skills such as how to study for an exam or what subjects to select as an elective for Years 9 and 10.

Term 1 : ‘Knowing Yourself and Others’ – character strengths and leadership qualities

Term 2 : ‘Learning to Learn’ – understanding how we learn, organising ourselves, study skills and strategies

Term 3 : ‘Our Community’ – serving others and developing life skills

Term 4 : ‘The Next Step’ – preparing for the journey to Senior School

This term, we have explored our character strengths and completed a strengths profile through the VIA Institute.  By analysing our individual character strengths and what our natural tendencies are, the Year 8 students have grown to understand themselves better, particularly how they approach certain situations.  They have also come to understand each other more, becoming aware of how their strengths can complement others in different situations.

In our recent conversations about trust and bravery, we also explored the Nine Traits of Trustworthy People and how this influences the decisions we make and the interactions we have.

According to the ‘Success’ magazine article, trustworthy people:

  1. Are authentic
  2. Are consistent
  3. Have integrity
  4. Are compassionate
  5. Are kind
  6. Are resourceful
  7. Are connectors
  8. Are humble
  9. Are available

Year 8 discovered that these nine traits are also key traits in being a leader, whether it be leading ourselves, others or our community.  We also found that many of these traits are key elements of who we are as a College and what values we stand for.

I have been proudly able to observe the mature way our Year 8 students have approached these topics, having courageous conversations with one another and being confident to share their ideas and experiences with their peers.

It has been quite obvious that ‘marbles’ are being added to the jar during our SCOTS Engage sessions.