Dear KES Family,
Every now and then I hear about the results of research that resonate with the School’s Mission and our desire to inspire the ideals of gentleness and learning, dignity and respect. Thus it was with significant interest that I read about the research a Harvard professor and psychologist has done. Dr. Richard Weissbourd is with the graduate school of education and he runs a project called Making Caring Common which is aimed at helping teach children to be kind.
Parents play a hugely influential role in whether their children are kind or not. He points out that 80 percent of children feel that parents value their achievement and good grades more than whether they care about other people in their class or school. Interestingly, his research also shows that parents value their child’s happiness more than their level of compassion for other people.
This prioritization of happiness over caring has caused some debate. I have heard many times that as parents all we really want is for our children to be happy. Weissbourd would not dispute this, but he questions the value of happiness without compassion. We confuse gratification for happiness and overlook or under value our children’s overall sense of well-being. How truly happy is someone who does not understand or care for the needs of other people?
Weissbourd is clear that kindness needs to be taught. I agree. We need to role model and teach caring behaviour to children of all ages. However, I think we need to teach happiness too. We all know that true happiness is not found in a Big Mac or an iPad or a sleep-in. Our happiest moments often come after someone has said a kind word to us, or after we have worked hard and done something well such as acting in a play like Urinetown, or after we have said or done something thoughtful for another person. We are most happy when we are doing things of value and our sense of personal well-being is most positive. True happiness fuels caring, and compassionate acts reinforce feelings of well-being.
If we really want our children to be happy then we need to teach them to be caring.
P.S. Two great ways to enjoy the Arts at the School: Urinetown, The Musical playing tonight and tomorrow, and next Friday at 7:30pm we have Dave Gunning and Allie Bennett in concert! For more information, click here.
This week in pictures.