Skip to main content

"When did Common Courtesy become Uncommon?"

Most people understand and experience life as a difficult adventure peppered with challenges and setbacks that test our mettle.  As Superstorm Sandy runs aground, I ask the question...

"When did common courtesy become uncommon?"  

Case in point, last week, an elderly woman ahead of me at the checkout line at the local grocery store realized that she had forgotten her purse and was unable to pay for her necessities.  Judging from the items in the cart, there was an apparent urgency to her shopping trip and the checkout clerk was rather impatient and lacking in understanding.  The woman was upset to the point of tears when I stepped in to ask how much was owed for the groceries.  I asked the bagger to please help the woman get her groceries to her car as I paid the thirty-two dollars that settled the transaction.  The woman blessed me and asked for my address so that she could repay me.  I told her that it wasn't necessary and that she could just pay it forward to the next person that needed help.

With the clerk and the bagger's jaws still agape, I explained that they had missed a tremendous opportunity to feel good about helping someone that needed help.  They missed a chance to gain a customer, or friend, for life.  They, in all likelihood, would experience their own time of need.  Who would help them?  Would someone show them kindness and courtesy?

Early on in my childhood, usually as I was picking on my younger brother, my parents taught us the message of "The Golden Rule" so that we would develop an empathy towards others.  Ironically, this behavioral guidance usually followed a spanking at the hands of my mother.  Spare the rod...blah, blah, blah.  That said, me and my brother witnessed many examples of my parents assisting others, often complete strangers, in their time of need.

In 2000, this message of empathy was graphically reinforced in the movie "Pay It Forward".  This movie struck a personal chord with me on several fronts.  First, because the main character, Trevor, played by Haley Joel Osment, had a distinct likeness to my oldest son Jarrett.  Second, the educational setting, and the empathy for the caring teacher Mr. Simonet.  And most importantly, the theme of reciprocal ethical behavior that made this a memorable and inspirational film for many.


21 Acts of Human Kindness caught on film.

It was also about this time that my Tae Kwon Do instructor, Master Braxton Miller, required a completed RASK (Random Act of Senseless Kindness) as a qualification to test for the next color belt. My black-belt test required a significant community service project.  My project was organizing my football players into teams of helpers that organized and executed community clean up projects and physical assistance for elderly citizens.  Even though we didn't win many football games that season, the mayor of Palatine recognized our players as winners.

Whether it's as simple as holding the door open for others, helping our neighbors shovel snow from their driveway, or helping a student learn something new... in the case of common courtesy, it is much better to give than to receive.  I have made it a daily practice to treat or help others in ways that exceed their expectations.  Selfishly, it makes me feel good - but it is also my hope that with the help of others, we can make kindness and courtesy common again.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Tech Time Saver #3 - URL Shorteners

Richard Byrne reminded me earlier this week that URL ( uniform resource locator ) shorteners are very simple ways to make web navigation more effective and time efficient for you and your students. Here is a comparison of three popular URL shorteners;  Google URL Shortener ,  Bitly URL Shortener , and  TinyURL.com . Google URL Shortener - is my personal favorite. Simply copy the original, lengthy URL and paste it into the space provided at goo.gl . Google then creates the short URL that can be copied and pasted as a link into blogs, tweets, or presentations. Google URL Shortener becomes even better when the Chrome browser is partnered with the Google URL Shortener Extension . One click condenses the URL from dozens, to possibly hundreds, of characters down to a randomized assortment of five letters and numbers. In addition, this click provides an option of creating a QR code from the URL. Usage statistics for the shortened URL can be tracked through Google Analytics.

Self-Directed vs. Self-Determined Learning; What's the Difference?

"We need to move beyond the idea that an education is something that is provided for us, and toward the idea that an education is something that we create for ourselves." - Stephen Downes In this age of abundance of information, shifting classroom pedagogy isn't nearly enough to make learning in school more relevant and authentic for the learner. Self-directed learning ( andragogy ), and self-determined learning ( heutagogy ) are the ideals necessary in making students " future ready " to live and learn in a web-connected world. While original research applied these concepts to mature learners, it has become apparent that even young children have an abundant capacity for recognizing and directing their learning. Anyone who has observed toddlers learning how to walk and talk understand the motivation and skill development that quickly develops during these processes. Considered by some to be on a learning continuum, self-directed learning, and self-determined

Digital Badges for Teacher Professional Development

Increasingly, digital badges are becoming a topic of discussion for educators. A digital badge is a digitized token of recognition for acquiring a skill, demonstrating a competency, or for sharing knowledge gained from the completion of an activity or project. As more of our learning comes by way of digital connections and contributions, badges are becoming a more prominent method of acknowledging skills and accomplishments. Many teachers readily acknowledge the importance of personalization of learning for students. Shouldn't professional development experiences offer the same promise? Ask a typical teacher to describe their PD experiences in a single word and you will likely get responses such as irrelevant or  boring . Besides personalization and relevance, digital badges provide opportunities for teachers to discuss the skills and knowledge that support educational best practice, and professional growth. These conversations support the form and function of profession