This is a question I mulled over on Friday. I have a few kids in my class who are just plain mean. Especially this one kid H in particular. I do my best in class to teach kindness and respect. Any student in that room could tell me what it means to be respectful and can tell me things they can do to be respectful and kind. It just seems that they choose not to put this knowledge into action. When given a choice between good and evil, H always chooses the wrong side. You pull him aside and say, “Was that a respectful thing to do?” He says no. “Why’d you do it?” “I don’t know.” When he does these rude and disrespectful things, he’s punished. Basically, I’m coercing him (or trying anyways) into being kind. But can you really do that? Shouldn’t kindness come from within, not from another person forcing you? Doesn’t that ruin the point? This kid is going to give me gray hairs well before my time.
Can you coerce kindness? December 6, 2008