Creating Conspiracies of Kindness
A simple truth – kids will tend to do those things for which they are rewarded – both extrinsically and intrinsically . . . and another truth – schools reward individual achievement. Most schools award individual achievements. Kids mostly work on individual school assignments and get individual graded for those assignments. In essence, school is a culture that promotes the rise and success of the individual. Sure, group work and collaboration does occur but when it comes down to assessment and grading, it is most often on the individual level.
Another truth – giving to others, for most of us, is wired into our DNA. What I mean by this is that many of us receive extreme states of joy and satisfaction by giving or even viewing acts of kindness. I’ve tried to figure out the whys of this but have fail to identify the why. In thinking about personal need fulfillment and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I cannot figure out which human needs are being fulfilled. All I can say is that it just feels really, really good. Watch the following videos for some evidence of this:
The following video is what sparked this post. The reactions and joys of the givers are just as priceless as the receiver:
Sadly, some kids (some adults) just never have experienced the act of giving and kindness nor the rewards it brings. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, school environments and often society-at-large do not promote nor reward, in a significant way, acts of kindness. So for some kids, experiencing being part of a conspiracy of kindness may act as visceral, innately rewarding experience and become the impetus of future acts. One of the most powerful statements of the Michigan Middle School Football Team’s Life Changing Play came from one of the middle school kids:
I kind of went from being somebody who mostly cared about myself and my friends to caring about everyone and trying to make everyone’s day and everyone’s life.
I propose that educators and administrators introduce the idea of creating conspiracies of kindness initiated and carried out by the students themselves. These wouldn’t be for a school assignment or grade. They would just be promoted as a way to give back to their communities, that doing good for others . . . just feels good. The ultimate goal would be that the students become involved in and develop a culture that promotes conspiracies of kindness just for the innate and intrinsic rewards; and this would carry over into a lifetime of increased giving, of kindness.
Resources and Stories to Help Motivate Students to Create Conspiracies of Kindness:
- Thomas students spread kindness with sticky-notes
- Romona’s Kids: N. Royalton High School student’s random acts of kindness
- High School Football Captain Starts Kindness Campaign on Twitter to Combat Bullying
- High School Kindness
- Kindness Ideas
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thearches/4381959041/s
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