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As a teacher, it is important to teach kindness for many reasons. First and foremost, teaching kindness helps to create a positive and inclusive classroom environment. When students are kind to one another, they are more likely to form strong bonds and work together effectively. This can lead to increased cooperation and collaboration, which can ultimately lead to better learning outcomes.
Furthermore, teaching kindness can help to promote empathy and understanding. When students learn about the consequences of unkindness, such as the suffering caused by the Holocaust, they are more likely to develop a deeper understanding of the importance of treating others with respect and compassion. This can help to foster a sense of community and inclusion, as well as discourage bullying and other negative behaviors.
We have seen an alarming rise in antisemitism recently. As teachers, we must not stand by while those who sell conspiracy theories and ridiculous tales of a mysterious “them” who must be stopped. “They” are almost always Jews, and if we have learned nothing from the past, we should remember that when good people do nothing, evil can take over. International Holocaust Remembrance Day is January 27, 2023 – and this is a good time to talk about the events of the past and what we can learn from them, both the bad and the good examples.
Kindness during the Holocaust
One powerful example of kindness during the Holocaust is the story of Chambon-sur-Lignon, a small village in France where the local inhabitants, led by their pastor André Trocmé, actively resisted the Nazi occupation and worked to protect Jews from deportation. Despite the risk to their own lives, the villagers of Chambon-sur-Lignon hid and sheltered Jews, and even forged identity papers to help them escape.
Through their actions, the people of Chambon-sur-Lignon showed extraordinary kindness and compassion, even in the face of great evil. By sharing this story with students, teachers can help to illustrate the power of kindness and the importance of standing up for what is right, even in difficult circumstances.
Teaching kindness is an important part of a teacher’s role. By fostering a culture of kindness in the classroom, teachers can create a positive and inclusive learning environment, promote empathy and understanding, and inspire students to be compassionate and caring individuals. The story of Chambon-sur-Lignon is a powerful reminder of the impact that kindness can have, even in the darkest of times.
Kindness in everyday life
While we may not be forced to make the same difficult decisions or take the risks as the inhabitants of Chambon-sur-Lignon, we are still given the opportunity to be kind to those around us and make our small section of the world a better place. Each day we can start our day with a conscious decision to do something kind for another person. It may be something simple – holding the door open for someone, allowing them to cut in line, or just saying hello and asking how they are doing.
As a teacher and as a person, I have thought about how I want to be thought of and remembered. I may be remembered as many different things – a patient teacher, a person who is good at languages, a talented musician, a poor hockey player, a loving wife and mother. But the most important to me to be remembered as a kind person – I want everyone to know that I always did my best to treat others with kindness and respect. This doesn’t have to mean that I went out of my way at great personal risk, but that it was simply a quiet and continuous way of living my life.