Kindness, community and pedagogies of care
By Samantha Ahern, on 8 December 2020
Research has shown that kindness has a positive effect on the giver to varying degrees. But, how do we embed this into our communities and develop pedagogies of care? How can we use kindness as a means of combating growing social isolation and loneliness?
In this context I am not referring to random acts of kindness, but relational and radical kindness. Relational kindness enables deep, meaningful connections between individuals by recognising the vulnerabilities and complexities of relationships. Radical kindness perceives kindness as a collective and state enabled response to inequality. It requires connection across differences and a recognition that some people’s needs are greater because of structural disadvantage. In an educational context, state could be akin to a an inidivudal institution, department or programme.
The key theme, is relationships and communities. What is needed to facilitate kindness, how can we create kind spaces and how do we create informal opportunities? Can we create informal spaces for students to just “be”? Conversations can be very powerful in bringing people together, but rely on people feeling comfortable and agenda free, neutral, spaces.
In addition to encouraging individual kindness, we need to embed kindness into our own behaviours. In our pedagogy, teaching departments and across our institutions. In the past I have written about digital wellbeing and compassionate pedagogy. Both of these have a role to play in relational and radical kindness, in addition to resources such as Equity Unbound’s Community Building Activites.
However, this is only part of the picture. We also need to consider our culture, how can we make people more important than processes, how to build a culture of trust and how to listen and making meaningful connections.
There have been some fantastic projects from the Kindness Innovation Netowrk on facilitating kindness in communities and in their interactions with local authorities. How can we translate thee lessons to our learning communities?
Compassionate pedagogy is a good start, but we also need to provide students with spaces to be, trusting them, giving them voice and truly enable them to co-construct their learning. Teach to transgress.
- Pedagogies of care (Open Resources for Student-Centered & Adaptive Strategies in the New Higher-Ed Landscape)
- How and why to Humanize your Online Class (Infographic)