Quite often I come across these lovely instructions by parents to their kids “Be Nice”, “Be kind”, “Be Good” & “Be Yourself” nothing new about it, but are we showing them how to do it? Kindness is one such topic which is widely marketed. While most of us know the benefits of being kind, its important how negative the consequences can be by not promoting kindness and inculcate right from the school age.

As famously said "Children are great imitators. So, give them something great to imitate." How can we give them right things to imitate and then make it as a practice? Kinds spend adequate time at school, first advantage they get by traveling to school together, eat, play and learning together is community learning and undoubtedly schools take best care on making visible things available in the school premises but how about things like kindness which is not visible but is super crucial?

One side we are expecting them be exactly opposite to what they could be, whereas on the other side, kids have enough opportunities absorb qualities on how not to be kind, can be TVs, content they consume outside, examples they get and most powerful resource how parents behave.

Image Credits: randomactsofkindness

As Richard Weissbourd, Ed.D.'87, senior lecturer at the Ed School and co-author of the Turning the Tide report, points out, "The college admissions process is one of the only rites of passage we have in this country. It's a powerful place for adults to have thoughtful conversations with young people about values, exchanges about what's most important to them," he says. "But too often the admissions process ends up reinforcing just the achievement message, with ethical engagement and concern for others being marginalized."

As he explains, Turning the Tide grew out of a meeting hosted in the spring of 2015 by Making Caring Common, an Ed School project he co-directs. A year earlier, the project had surveyed 10,000 middle and high school students from diverse backgrounds from across the country about what is most important to them, and the results were startling. Given three choices, almost 80 percent of the students ranked either high achievement or personal happiness as most important to them, with only around 20 percent saying that caring for others was their top priority.

"We're not the first ones to recognize this. People have been lamenting the 'me generation' for a long time. But these are concerning trends," says Weissbourd. "It doesn't mean there aren't a lot of wonderful young people. There are. But there is an excess of cultural messages that focus on individualism over investment in others. That has not been true to this degree at other times in our history."

LEAD BY EXAMPLE
If the teacher is not demonstrating the act of kindness on given situation, kids would certainly ignore their message. "Before expecting them to be kind, demonstrate"

Below are few things which can be done by teachers and encourage students to practice

  • Post positive sticky notes around the school.
  • Celebrate Kindness Week, by expressing gratitude to Supporting Staff in the school
  • Leader board for Kindness by Grades and Sections
  • Say hello to someone you don’t know.
  • Leave a kind note on the teacher’s desk.
  • Volunteer to help clean a classroom or do another chore around school.
  • Celebrate Kindness Week and fade out by making it their habit
  • Create a Challenge to Spread Kindness

Teachers who actively point out the value of every student to peers over time also help create a more egalitarian setting. Classrooms with a hierarchical sense of popularity create situations where “under the radar” relational aggression can be widespread. While teachers may not have the power to completely eradicate direct and relational aggression among students, their actions can make a difference!

Drawn from research summary, Teaching and Teacher Education, January 2016

Picture Credits: Ptotoday.com

Recommendations from Turning the Tide, focused on family contributions and daily kindness:

WEIGHING DAY-TO-DAY CONDUCT

The admissions process should seek to assess more effectively whether students are ethically responsible and concerned for others and their communities in their daily lives. The nature of students’ day-to-day conduct should be weighed more heavily in admissions than the nature of students’ stints of service.

CONTRIBUTIONS TO ONE’S FAMILY

The admissions process should clearly send the message to students, parents, and other caregivers that not only community engagement and service but also students’ family contributions, such as caring for younger siblings, taking on major household duties, or working outside the home to provide needed income, are highly valued in the admissions process. Far too often there is a perception that high-profile, brief forms of service tend to count in admissions while these far more consistent, demanding, and deeper family contributions are overlooked. Students should have clear opportunities to report these family contributions on their applications.

TRUE PUBLIC SERVICE

It’s vital that the admissions process squarely challenges misconceptions about what types of service are valued in admissions. Some students seek to “game” service by taking up high-profile or exotic forms of community service, sometimes in faraway places, that have little meaning to them but appear to demonstrate their entrepreneurial spirit and leadership. The admissions process should clearly convey that what counts is not whether service occurred locally or in some distant place or whether students were leaders, but whether students immersed themselves in an experience and the emotional and ethical awareness and skills generated by that experience.