Small giants 1 November, 2017 Isabel Vallejo
A team of researchers from the Harvard School of Education have developed a guide that helps educate children to be more concerned for the wellbeing of their peers.
This manual was created after a group of researchers interviewed 10,000 students between ages 13 and 19 who were from different schools, the majority of which affirmed that personal success (academic achievement or individual happiness) is more important than caring for others. Three key factors were identified to help them find the importance in elements that are external to them:
- Make caring for others a priority. Parents tend to put the achievements and happiness of their children first. Children must learn, however, to balance their needs with those of others as well as develop empathy and solidarity, two values that are essential parts of a community. For them to adopt this, parents must expect them to follow through with their commitments, for example, even if this makes them unhappy for a while.
- Have them practice kindness. Children must experience being cared for by others as well as express gratitude for those who care for them. Research shows that people who practice expressing their gratitude on a regular basis are more likely to be useful, generous, compassionate and sympathetic. Learning to be kind is like learning to ride a bicycle: you never forget how to do it.
- Expand their circle of concern. Almost all children care about their small circle of friends and family. The challenge is for children or students to also take an interest in people outside of this circle, such as a new classmate or someone that does not speak their language. With this perspective, they will also be able to acknowledge the existence of people that normally go by unnoticed, which are often those that need the most help.