Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Three Things in Human Life are Important

I wanted to share with you a little from Robert Coles book entitled “Moral Intelligence”. He writes in the section ‘A letter to Parents’ the following:

 “How do we do “the best for them”? What is “the best for them”? I posed those anxious questions, pretending to be “cool” about it all by laughing, mocking my very inquiry- yet another worried, literal-minded father, teacher. “I told you,” he addressed me, he reminded me, “to be kind,’ that’s what we have to be, to do: show by how we behave that we’re interested in others and want the best for them.” Now he slumped a bit, and so did I- we both realized, I thought then, I still think, that we weren’t considering a specific act, or a series of acts, a routine, a set of rules, a strategy, but rather, a way of being to which one aspires, then works, day by day, to find for oneself, to share with others.

Henry James’s nephew, the son of William James, once asked the great and thoughtful novelist what he ought to do with his life, how he ought to live it. The nephew (who today might be regarded as going through Erikson’s identity crisis) received this advice: “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” The issue here is the hortatory verb, “be,” as well as the adjective- the instance that one find an existence that enables one to be kind. Hot to do so? By wading in, over and over, with that purpose in mind, with a willingness to sail on, tacking and tacking again, helped by those we aim to help, guided by our moral yearning on behalf of others, on behalf of ourselves with others: a commitment to others, to oneself as linked to others, that won’t avoid squalls and periods of seeming drift, but that will become the heart of the journey itself, with it’s ups and downs, a journey that is, after all, the destination- moral commitment given the life of moral companionship. “

I think that the issues that Robert Coles discusses are so critical to the health and wellbeing of our world. These are issues that we as teachers should be discussing the sharing with parents and children. More importantly we need to find ways to make kindness visible for those around us, particularly children. We all stand in such a powerful place, we should use this power with great care.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A little kindness goes a long way!

The following is a lovely contribution to our 'Kindness Blog' by Julie Killick:

A little kindness goes a long way doesn't it! An act of kindness doesn't have to be a huge thing to make my day, I notice and appreciate little things which put a smile on my face and a skip in my step, kindness sort of oils up life and makes everything run more smoothly. Its great to be on the receiving end of an act of kindness but it feels just as good to be dishing it out.
There is a saying worth bearing in mind "If I'm not for myself who will be for me, if I'm not for others what am I for?" I think this is a great little proverb because it speaks of balance. My Mother was such an incredibly kind and generous person, she would give anyone anything! Sometimes though I wondered if she could have been a little kinder to herself, but I think she was influenced by the gender expectations of the society she was brought up in, where woman saw their role as putting everyone else's needs before their own. Maybe today our world is a little more balanced? Personally think there is a still a long way to go for gender equality!
Anyhow, back to balance, I think its worth bearing in mind, and of course if we are loving towards ourselves we are far more likely to be loving and kind to others!
So is kindness all about fluffy ducks and warm fuzzy feelings? I say not always! I think sometimes the kind thing to do is to be brave and raise the issue that has come between you and a friend and caused a disruption in your relationship. Kindness to me means I care about you and our friendship enough to sort out what has come between us, instead of tossing you out of my heart and letting resentments build. Sometimes I manage it and sometimes I don't!
At our Kindergarten in Stanmore Bay we declared March the month of marvelousness! We wanted to create more of a culture of appreciation in a fun and playful way. As a teaching team we decided to look out for anything each other, the children or parents did that we thought was a little bit marvelous, and compliment the person. We put up signs in the bathroom saying things like "Tell someone they are marvelous today! And be your most marvelous self, and Beauty all around us-MARVELOUS!" etc. Giving and receiving feedback on the marvelous moments has done a little bit of magic in our team, brought more laughter and kindled more kindness.
As a kindergarten teacher I have the privilege of witnessing many moments in a day when children show kindness to other children and adults around them. I hope you enjoy this learning story about Matthew cheering Leo on! Children are our teachers-lets be encouraged by this lesson and cheer ourselves and others on and bring a little more kindness into the world!