Saturday, May 25, 2013

Kindness in the classroom

Teaching is a noble profession—think of the role teachers have in a child's life. As we believe that kindness has an important place in the classroom, we must share this Washington Post article, written by George Wood. 

Wood, the superintendent of the Federal Hocking School District in Stewart, Ohio, retired this year after serving as principal of the Federal Hocking Secondary School for 21 years. He is also the founder of the Forum for Education and Democracy.

We are struck by much in his article, but he got us in the second paragraph with this his simple call to action: "Be nice."

Wood shares his memories of the teachers who became true guides and friends—those who gave him pants to wear when he needed them; who comforted classrooms when Kennedy was assassinated; who brought students on special field trips, giving them windows into a larger world, making them feel that they could be a part of it.

"I know I learned a lot of academic stuff too, but what stuck with me were the kindnesses shown when, more often than not, I did nothing to deserve them," he writes. "Nothing more than being a student, a child, who happened to be in their classroom."

Teachers are still working in classrooms to make a difference, he writes, but these days, "it is harder for us to be nice to kids," he writes.

He blames elevated standards, increased testing, zero tolerance laws "and other Draconian rules" that make it hard to forgive mistakes and help children navigate their world.

"Getting tough on kids will not make them tougher or any smarter," he writes. "...Turning a deaf ear to the needs of kids, to moments when we could be kind rather than just follow the rules, does not help kids learn anything except that those in charge are operating at the lowest level of ethical reasoning."

Go on, give it a read—you'll be glad you did.

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