2016-2017 Graduate Catalog

EDUA 5621 Kindness: Can it be Taught

Kindness, considered a universally desirable trait, is not often formally "taught" at school. While all teachers want students to treat each other with kindness and respect, there is not always time to focus classroom instruction on building this social skill, especially as students get older and academic requirements become more rigorous. However, researchers believe that this trait can (and should) be actively nurtured throughout all of childhood and adolescence. This course is applicable to elementary school teachers, since elementary school students are moving from a family-centric social model to a peer-centric one, so building a foundation of good interpersonal skills is paramount. The course is also applicable to middle and high school teachers because it is crucial to reinforce and continue building kindness skills, as these are the years when exclusionary cliques and bullying can reach their peak.

In this course, the teacher will learn about the biological roots of kindness that are present in all people at birth. The teacher will gain concrete strategies for helping students build key components of kindness: empathy, perspective-taking, honesty, and trustworthiness. Teachers will also learn about the personal and social benefits of practicing random acts of kindness and the importance of impressing on students the need to treat those who are "different" with kindness. At the end of the course, the teacher will know how to support all students in developing kindness towards both themselves and others.