The Kindness Council at OWIS

Michelle Dickinson
Updated on
September 23, 2020

The research is in, and it turns out that kindness in schools reduces bullying, improves student health and helps children focus on their academic progress. At One World International School (OWIS), we trust the experts and we believe our experience, so we know kindness works. We're excited to announce a new Kindness Council at OWIS.

WHY TEACH KINDNESS IN SCHOOL

School is more than a place to practise academic skills in order to advance through layers of education and employment. It's also the beginning of a journey toward global understanding, empathy and positive interaction with others. Like any other skill, kindness grows through regular practice, guidance and feedback. It should become second nature, and it is something that is ingrained in us from a young age. That is why it is so important to promote kindness throughout the educational journey.

Kindness not only helps students flourish in the future, but it also teaches them to open up and learn today. Tomorrow's leaders are learning how to treat each other in today's classrooms. These children will be managers, leaders and colleagues. By creating an inherent positive mindset with care and empathy at the core, our children will go on to be kind and respectful adults.   Recognising that children need an education in kindness as much as they need to learn mathematics, science and languages, OWIS launched the kindness initiative.   

WHY KINDNESS IMPROVES ACADEMIC SCORES

Kindness does more than co-exist with academics. Improving the quality of social performance actually enhances academic retention. 

Recent research from the University of Arizona supports the theory linking kindness education and academic performance.  This study found that kindness education created an inviting school environment, increased attendance, improved grades, encouraged the sharing of resources and decreased tardiness.  The researchers behind the study wrote, "Research has found that programming that aims to develop students’ social-emotional skills positively influences a range of academic, health and social outcomes." 

In other words, science supports what empathetic people have known all along - learning to be kind is fundamental to learning everything else. By creating a culture of kindness, peer-to-peer and student-to-teacher connections are enhanced. Spending time to promote kindness intentionally cultivates understanding and empathy between individuals.  It also helps to develop trust and value within the classroom and the wider world. 

According to Patty O'Grady, PhD, an expert in emotional learning and neuroscience, "Kindness changes the brain by the experience of kindness.  Children and adolescents do not learn kindness by only thinking about it and talking about it.  Kindness is best learned by feeling it so that they can reproduce it."

THE KINDNESS COUNCIL AT OWIS

"Recognising random acts of kindness" isn't just a slogan at OWIS.  Our school emphasises a global community and a comprehensive approach to education.  That means we believe success and passion work hand-in-hand, a conviction evidenced in the 70-plus nationalities represented among our students.

According to neuroscientist and educator, Dr Judy Willis:

“Classrooms can be the safe haven where academic practices and classroom strategies provide students with emotional comfort and pleasure as well as knowledge. When teachers use strategies to reduce stress and build a positive emotional environment, students gain emotional resilience and learn more efficiently and at higher levels of cognition. Brain-imaging studies support this relationship.”

Creating the Kindness Council is a logical next step in our students' growing awareness of the value of global unity.  Studies show that people who exhibit altruistic behaviour get a kind of "giver’s high."  They feel happier, healthier, more grateful and better connected socially.  The giver’s high is just as real for children as it is for adults.

Here at OWIS, we are passionate about the power of kindness and more importantly nurturing a community of kindness. We teach our children the importance of friendships within classrooms. We promote compassion in their day to day activities. For instance, if one student is sharpening their pencil they may decide to sharpen their friend’s as well so that they can continue working together on their project; these little acts of kindness help to promote empathy as second nature. As young people grow and develop with compassion and kindness as core values, we are securing an empathetic, tolerant and honourable future for them as global citizens. 

We transformed our traditional student council into the Kindness Council.  Students serving on the council embody and model the values of kindness and promote this throughout the school.  These students also act as role models for others. They are a link between different classes and groups, and they offer the opportunity for individuals to communicate their thoughts and ideas to further promote kindness within the school.

To find out more about the kindness council, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We enjoy hearing ideas from parents and families.

About Author

Michelle Dickinson

Head of School

Michelle has a BA (Hons) in History and South Asian Studies from North London University and PGCE from Middlesex University. She began teaching across all three primary key stages. Michelle began her school leadership career in 2002, when she became the Deputy Head Teacher of a large primary school in North London and spent four wonderful years there before relocating to India in 2005.

Her first international position was the Head of Primary of a local/international school in Bangalore in Southern India, where she introduced the Cambridge International Primary Programme and Checkpoint. Michelle then spent 6 years in China and 3 years in Ethiopia developing curriculum and assessment practices.

Michelle believes that children learn best when they are having fun and are engaged in practical, real life activities. While she recognises that outstanding academic achievement is the ultimate goal, she feels it is just as important to build self-esteem, instill character and encourage a global outlook in every child. Michelle believes that learning transcends the classroom environment and is passionate about educational visits and extra-curricular experiences.

Michelle is married with four children - Ana, Hindya, Bille and Markos. The Dickinson family have a sense of adventure and love of life. They particularly enjoy the outdoors, family holidays, making friends, good weather, camping and exploring and are delighted to be at OWIS.

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