For Educators: Interview with Rick Weissbourd on Kindness
In a nationwide survey of 10,000 youth, we found that 80% of youth said achievement or happiness was their top priority while only 20% of youth said caring for others was their top priority.
To elevate caring in the minds of more young people, Making Caring Common (MCC) and The KIND Foundation, a nonprofit started by KIND Snacks, have teamed up to launch the second KIND Schools Challenge. Middle- and high-school students nationwide are invited to submit ideas for building more inclusive school communities. At the end of the academic year, one winner will be named.
We caught up with Rick Weissbourd, MCC's Faculty Director, to discuss the importance of kindness in schools, what is special (and challenging!) about the middle and high school years, and his advice for students entering the KIND Schools Challenge.
Why is it important to teach kindness at school?
Novelist Henry James said there are only three important things in life: kindness, kindness, and kindness. Kindness is the heart of what it means it be human, and it’s the heart of a functioning, moral society. Kids learn about what kindness looks like in their key relationships, and that includes their relationships with teachers.
When kindness is part of a school community, what happens?
Kindness is so important at school. Kids feel safer, they are more engaged, they look forward to going to school, they have stronger relationships that buoy them, and they feel more anchored and connected to their teachers.
What trends have you noticed when it comes to kindness during middle- and high-school years?
Kids vacillate in middle and high school. They can be very kind and inclusive and supportive. They can also be very egocentric and selfish. From moment to moment, they can shift from being selfish to being kind and back again. Our job as adults is to create cultures that support their kindness and discourage unkindness.
Any words of advice for those entering this year’s KIND Schools Challenge?
Be bold! Think about the diverse array of students in the building and how you can include them. Develop a strategic plan with outcomes and keep pushing toward them. Making Caring Common also has a toolkit for educators for helping promote caring and respect in your school.
Originally published October 2017.