This week on our secondary assembly I talked to our girls about personal values, having a positive impact on others, gratification and everyday acts of kindness. I encouraged them to reflect on themselves and to answer the following questions regarding their behaviour and actions towards others.
I am respectful of others’ feelings, beliefs and opinions and in doing so I do not try to force my personal beliefs on others. I respect my own property, others’ property and my school. I take pride in myself, and my school community including everyone in it regardless of whether they are a peer or a staff member. I respect rules and expectations that are in place and understand that these are not because the school wants to be unreasonable or unfair, instead, they are meeting required regulations to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all.
As a definition, respect is a way of treating and thinking about something or someone. Being highly regarded, or held in high esteem are examples of respect, as is being courteous to other people’s feelings.
Why is respect so important in life? Because showing respect is the right response in civil society. It affirms those worthy of respect and it encourages behaviour that is respectful. Respect provides a solid foundation for relationships. Children and adults alike don’t like to be treated badly, demeaned, devalued, dishonored or disrespected. Mutual respect is shown through meaningful, healthy, and mutually-beneficial relationships. Without respect we lose heart. Feeling respected is so basic to human well-being that in its absence, people don’t thrive. The father of modern psychiatry, William James said, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated”. Students or staff who are not appreciated do not feel respected and this is disheartening. We show respect to things and people around us by being polite and kind.
Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. The words affectionate, gentle, warm, concerned and caring are associated with kindness and are qualities that we encourage all of our students to develop and strengthen. Charles Darwin the famous evolutionary scientist credited with creating the Theory of Evolution didn’t view mankind as being biologically competitive and self-interested. He believed that humans are a profoundly social and caring species and current research supports this idea. Kindness has been found by researchers to be the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in relationships. The quality of kindness is so important that many colleges, including Harvard, are now emphasizing the interpersonal skills of kindness on student admission applications.
At this point in the term when students are finishing assessment and are busy revising content in preparation for assessment block next week, it is more important than ever to show respect and kindness towards ourselves and others. When we experience stress, anxiety or feelings of being overwhelmed due to assessment, exams and deadlines we can become more irritable, angry, sad or have social problems with relationships.
I encourage our girls to continue to show respect and kindness to themselves, others (including staff and students) and our school. I would like to conclude with an inspirational quote by Julia Roberts’s character, Isabel Pullman in the movie Wonder when she tells her son Auggie, “When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind”.
“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.”
As students of Girls Grammar, I encourage all students to display ongoing greatness.
Deputy Principal - Students