“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ~Leo Buscaglia
I have referenced the book Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World by Michele Borba many times in this forum and I wanted to do so once again. In her introduction, she determines the key societal problem of the rise of the selfie syndrome and the fall of empathy: “Self-absorption kills empathy, the foundation of humanity, and it’s why we must get kids to switch their focus from ‘I, Me, My, Mine’ to ‘We, Us, Our, Ours.’” She goes on to offer some scary statistics to support her thesis:
Teens are now 40% less empathetic than three decades ago; subsequently, narcissism has increased by 58%.
A 2014 study found that cyberbullying incidents tripled within a single year. Empathy is the best antidote.
72% of Americans say moral values are “getting worse”. 70% of college students admit to cheating.
Teen stress is now at higher levels than that reported by adults.
Fortunately, the ethos and culture of Harding Academy as manifested in our Community Code is such that we are ahead of the curve in cultivating empathy in our students. As we inspire the mind and nurture the spirit of our students, we strive to embody Leo Buscaglia’s words above. Having said that and even from this position of strength, we are engaging in conversations around the health and wellness of our students, families, and faculty and staff. A major consideration in that conversation is how we provide support systems for our students as they grow into a world described above, knowing they will inevitably hit bumps in the road and be challenged to consistently think “We, Us, Our, Ours.”
And so, as one tactic in our Strategic Plan and moving the school forward along the Road Map outlined in Excellentia and our recent weekly pushes, we will be adding a second School Counselor position. Rebecca Igleheart, our tireless counselor, will now be able to partner with a peer and colleague to support the needs of our students and families, teachers and administrators. With our unique model of beginning the transition process out of lower school and into middle school beginning in some ways as early as fourth grade, we are looking to create a position that is focused on grades 4 through 8, tied into the rhythm and rhyme of that age group, while developing a counseling department that can be collaborative, team-orientated, and capable of working with students of all ages in our PreK to 8th grade model. If you are interested in learning more, you can see the job description HERE
We are excited about this opportunity but realize this individual isn’t the sole solution to all we see out there as challenges for our kids - but it is a start. We are undoubtedly all in this together and it will be nice to add another expert voice to the conversation.
Have a great weekend.