After working in English class on the use of social networks and new technologies, particularly among young Americans, a group of Year 10 students carried out the following task:
Each student was asked to create an A4 portrait poster with the same title: #Kindness Is Cool. The poster had to be made into a table with two columns and a line underneath. The fact that all the posters had to be the same size and layout was a way of showing that we're all the same...and all different, because obviously no two posters were alike.
The left-hand column was to show what's nice, pleasant and/or funny about social networks, and the right-hand column was to list what's not acceptable on these same networks.
Underneath, each student was asked to write a "post" (a very short message) about a classmate, using the #KindnessIsCool tag. The teacher had arranged the posts alphabetically, so that each student could be the recipient of a post.
Indeed, the hashtag #kindnessIsCool refers to an international kindness contest that the teacher had heard about. This contest is organized by Gan Jing World (Gan Jing means clean), a new clean social media (with no harmful, violent or pornographic content).
Gan Jing World's #kindnessIsCool hashtag page is powered by Internet users from every continent, whose common goals are to flood the web with videos, photos and articles expressing positive gestures, and to show that kindness is a universal language that everyone understands and can practice every day.
As a teacher of high school students who use social networks a lot, we can't help but be convinced that a social medium with such values is important for the younger generation. So that's where the teacher's inspiration for this class project came from.
This #kindnessiscool initiative made every student aware of the importance of seeing and highlighting the good in everyone. As many students have a degraded or at least very blurred view of their personal qualities, it was a good way of getting them to reflect on their own self-esteem and look positively on their peers - and all in English, of course!
At first, the students were a little disconcerted by this task, partly because at the start of the schoolyear they didn't know each other very well. Gradually, they got into the swing of writing something nice and positive for each other.
Taking this step to the side, and necessarily looking for the good and positive in others, is something students are not necessarily used to doing. So, when they met in class to talk about themselves and show what's good about them, they were very focused, respectful and committed to their work.
They also enjoyed making the posters and illustrating them with color, glitter and emojis.
In the end, the students' posters were displayed in the school library window on November 9, harassment awareness day.
Because, when it comes down to it, seeing and acknowledging the good in yourself and others is an effective way to fight harassment!