In imbibing professional and academic skills, we, as a community, have forgotten to imbibe the most important value one must possess to be a good human being – the virtue of kindness.
The contemporary classroom
Our students are exposed to a diverse range of experimental and stimulating 21st century concepts and lessons today. We live in a very competitive age, especially in the education sector, owing to which international schools offer classes on self-defence, foreign languages like Latin and Hebrew and Internet familiarity for children as young as five. The adolescent years of a child are said to be his/her most impressionable years, however, the years that lead up to adolescence is when the delicate mind of a child does its most imperative learning, i.e., learning how to live a life.
We must teach our children to live as a part of a symbiotic community, and in order to do that, they have to learn how to interact and co-exist with their neighbours, friends, colleagues, teachers and not only them but also, strangers. As imperative as it is to teach children to be careful of strangers, it is also equally essential to teach them to help someone in need.
Help others to help yourself
Children are often taught that good behaviour is rewarded, which is reinforced by teachers and parents through material gifts, encouragement, and appreciation. So when you wish to teach a child, used to a system of external appreciation, to commit acts of kindness towards people they don’t know; with no opportunity for a tangible reward?
Rushabh Turakhia, in his book Your Turn Now, introduces the concept of committing random acts of kindness as a system of self-fulfilment, and creating an everlasting circle of kindness, by passing on the baton of a kind act, thus keeping the tradition alive and going across generations, races, communities, and countries.
The Movement, the Card
Your Turn Now is a movement started by Rushabh Turakhia with a simple concept – to remind children and adults to use their innate kindness. This movement has now spread to several countries and has touched hundreds of lives. From housemaids to housewives, from students to tourists, from children to old men, they have all been touched by a stranger’s kindness. They share these special moments in this heart-warming, inspiring collection of stories.*
Inspired by an act of kindness committed by a random stranger towards his uncle when he met with an accident, the book shares real stories of people who were recipients of the kindness of strangers who only ask for one thing as a reward for their help — to pass it on to another stranger in need. The resolution of the movement is simple really, if someone helps you out, you return the favour by passing on the ‘Your Turn Now’ card – a little blue card that carries the fundamental message of this project on it, that being – “someone did a little nameless act of kindness that touched your heart, it is your turn now to multiply this feeling. Be there for someone and pass on this card.” It is Turakhia’s dream to one day see this card travelling the world, touching the hearts and lives of millions in need.
Practice what you preach
Coming back to the concept of impressionability, it is also said that infants often mime and imbibe the body language, words, and actions they see around them every day. In the very same manner, children learn from what they see their parents and teachers do. In order to inculcate a habit of kindness in children, the teachers and parents have to first do it themselves and an act of kindness is best taught when practiced, because it only brings about more and more good about you.
Children must be taught to appreciate and cultivate intangible values and virtues such as compassion, honesty, integrity and of course, kindness. It is when they learn the value of these qualities that they will respect and truly enjoy having committed an act of kindness without having anything to gain from it. Stress must be laid upon the selflessness of an act; of extending a helping hand to someone who sometimes may or may not even have the means to do anything back for you.
Start young for the long run
Aesop rightfully said that no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. From a very young age, it must be communicated to students that a material present will only make them feel gratified for a short while, until the expectation for the next one arises, leaving only a sense of entitlement. A kind act, committed out of the goodness of one’s heart, with no expectations will make them feel infinitely better, and help them have a positive self-image and a deeper sense of self. By sharing, helping or giving selflessly, one learns to value oneself as a good person and it is crucial for children to learn young that, in the long run, who you are on the inside will always be of greater consequence than what you do. And for that, it is your turn now.
*From the Publisher, Fun OK Please’s website: http://funokplease.in/your_turn_now.html
The author is a freelance writer based in Bombay. She finds comfort in all forms of literature, melancholy cinema, felines, and Urdu poetry. She can be reached at [email protected].