Yes, teaching students to read, write, solve problems, think critically, work in groups, cooperate are all important skills. But far more important is teaching kids how to think before they act or speak. We need to teach our kids how every action they take and every word they say has a direct impact on people around them. We ask kids to be kind, and empathetic but this cannot be possible without having them think about all the possible outcomes for every action they take and word they say.
As I was picking my students up from lunch today, I did what I usually do, wait and wait for all of them to calm down and line up. As I was waiting, I observe a student trying to fit in with a group of “cool kids”. He pulls his hoodie up over his head, turns around and tells his friends in a mocking kind of way “Look, I have cancer,” and then he laughs. Why me? Why did it have to be ME who listened to that? It hit me so hard, made me so angry inside.
Earlier today, another unfortunate situation happened. A group of students where having recess inside their class due to rainy weather. As I sat in my class next door, I heard a loud cry. I couldn’t help it but going over and checking to see what had happened. A girl was crying because some boys in her class had played a prank on her. A few boys had gotten the girls laptops and opened an internet page with images of the recent unfortunate viral hoax – “Momo”. The girls opened the laptops and the first thing they saw were these pictures. (If you have kids of your own or students, you might want to read into it). One of the girls was so shaken and upset, she couldn’t stop crying.
“We were just being funny”, “We were just playing around”. These are the everyday answers from students when asked about their actions. This is not ok. It is not ok for them to think that “just joking” is ok. I’ve heard so many people tell me, “They are just kids”, or “We all did that when we were growing up”. It is not ok, it is not just a joke. More and more we need to teach our kids about how their actions and words have an effect on others. How just being funny is not right. We need to teach our kids to think before they act or say. We need to teach our kids what “having a sense of humor” really means. We need to teach or kids to think about the consequences and implications of their words and actions. “We were just joking” is NOT ok.