Stuck at Tooronga crossing, waiting for the train to pass, mum, with her failing eyesight, could tell that the billboard was something ‘Carey’ but she needed me to read ‘When everybody’s trying to be liked, BE KIND.’
How many likes do you get on Insta, how many friends do you have on Facebook and who is talking about your recent TikTok posts and Be Real uploads? Social media has put enormous pressure on teenagers to concentrate on themselves and being liked. They are so focussed on being judged and judging others that being kind, respectful and compassionate can take second place. Sometimes adolescents need to be reminded to treat others as they would like to be treated, to be inclusive as they would like to be included and indeed to be kind to support their own and others’ mental health. So, despite the billboard message being replaced all too soon with election paraphernalia, KINDNESS holds centricity in Carey Middle School.
This term, Middle School assemblies have been opportunities to emphasise messages of respecting yourself, each other and the environment. Chapel services have encouraged all to think of others, as did the special Saturday APS round which raised over $4000 for the JMB Foundation. The House Fun Run saw many take the moment to encourage and applaud others, and the members of the SRC demonstrated their willingness to care by supporting the staff-student netball match by barbequing 250 sausages in the very chilly weather.
In my classroom visits, the development of kindness in our middle schoolers is very apparent; both through our curriculum and its delivery.
The Year 9 English novel, The Messenger by Markus Zusak, led many classes to the ‘altruistic challenge’. A teacher inviting her neighbour for a luncheon started the students off and then they were cooking dinner for family members, gardening for elderly neighbours, writing letters of gratitude to people that have positively impacted students, buying/picking parents a bunch of flowers and offering up seats on public transport. What great examples of small acts of kindness.
The Year 8 Changemakers class has always stressed that you must give kind, specific and helpful feedback when critiquing prototypes. They appeared to have taken kindness one step further as they required each group to develop their own Empathy Tasks. Everything from a game of Scissors, Paper, Rock with the losers joining an ever growing congo line; which eventually became so entwined that they couldn’t move (just like getting stuck in a traffic jam) to a ‘hands-up’ activity; do you have a job, an iphone, a plane ticket, and suddenly you realise that your privacy has been breached (in the same way automated car technology knows everything about you). What great examples of developing feelings for others.
Science classes where Year 7s patiently supported each other to light the Bunsen burner, Drama classes where students respectfully coped as a recently absent cast member improvised the script rather more than expected, sharing in the Transformative Repair Art project and the compassion shown towards the Ted Talkers are among many other examples of kindness in action.
Certainly, all members of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory cast, crew and band will need that extra bit of kindness during their performance week. It is a fabulous production and congratulations go to all involved. What a wonderful team effort.
As the Term wraps up and we all look towards the holidays with its break from routine and a chance to do something different, please remember to BE KIND to each other and yourself!
Deputy Head of Middle School – Student Learning