We spend a lot of time talking about bullying and bullying prevention, but not very much time talking about kindness. In a recent blog post from Edutopia, the magazine from the George Lucas Education Foundation, Lisa Currie talks about why it’s important to teach kindness in schools, before the issue of bullying gets out of hand. “When children are able to experience the feel-good emotions that are produced when being kind, it enables them to see the world in a more positive light,” she says. “By building respectful relationships and being kind to their teachers and peers, a culture of kindness emerges to reduce bullying and create safe and inviting environments.”
This is important in a society like today’s, where teens mock and belittle each other with frightening results. My own daughter has experienced this, which I find absolutely horrifying. Worse, it came from an ex-boyfriend who was trying to re-establish a relationship with her. Not the way to do things, not by a long shot. One of her girlfriends is also talking trash about her–I’ve seen the texts. The cruelty of adolescents never ceases to amaze me.
I think Ms. Currie is on the right path. Teaching kindness to children right from the beginning as part of the curriculum may curb some of the rudeness so rampant these days. Continuing to teach kindness in middle and high school can only help reinforce the lessons introduced at the elementary level. We can’t control what kids learn at home, but we have them for seven hours a day; surely we as teachers can do something to stem the tide of disrespect and insolence that is so prevalent.