Kindness is not just for Kindness Week

Issue 55: 1/3/2024 From the Principal

As a youngster growing up in the UK many years ago, one of the things that has always stuck with me is the clever slogans that clever advertisers used to make certain products popular and memorable in the mind of the public.  When ever I find myself in the company of other people who have grown up in a similar environment to me, we often find ourselves recalling some of the catchy sayings that would often appear on the television or radio, and which were designed to ensure that their product was at the forefront of minds when we were out in the shops.  This ranged from the “P….p….Pick up a Penguin” slogan which implored us to buy a certain brand of chocolate biscuit, to “It’s the real thing” which was an early Coca-Cola campaign, through to “for mash get Smash” imploring us in the guise of some robotic martians to buy a brand of powdered mash potato.  As I said, 50 years on I can easily remember these jingles and they have at times through the years swayed my buying patterns!

The British government were also cleaver when it came to using this style of persuasion when they wanted to get a message across to the public.  A great example of this was the Green Cross Code campaign, trying to remind us all to “Stop, Look, Listen, Think” before we stepped out into the road.  They used the giant figure of the British actor, Dave Prowse, to play a hero figure dressed in green who would appear in front of children and warn them to “Always use the Green cross code, because I wont be there when you cross the road!!”  We all took heed of course, because at the time Dave Prowse was playing the part of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy!

This week at FIS we have been running a series of small events around Kindness week.  However, just as we are told “A dog’s not just for Christmas”, I would like to think that we should not restrict our ability to be kind to one week of the year.  The Mental Health foundation from the UK defines kindness as choosing to do something that helps others or yourself, motivated by genuine warm feelings. There are many structures in our year that lead us to acts that show kindness: Christmas, birthdays and anniversary celebrations being an example.  But how many of us are consciously kind on a regular basis, and what behaviours can we build into our routines to help others or ourselves?  I have written before about my experiences of saying a simple hello to students & staff who come onto the school grounds in the morning.  The responses are mixed, from genuine smiles to quizzical looks on the faces of the recipients.

It is very difficult to be kind to others when you are not feeling great yourself.  This is where I would challenge you to go against your intuition, as I have found that by giving a friendly greeting to someone else when I am feeling down, can really give me a boost.  Using other people’s warmth and generosity often raises my spirits.  So remember: Giving acts of kindness begets acts of kindness in return! Make sure that you are kind all year round, and not just in Kindness week.

Mark Williams
Secondary Principal (International Stream)