An Apple A Day Can Keep A Bully Away

An Apple A Day Can Keep A Bully Away

A valuable lesson in empathy and the power of words.
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For many school children, bullying is a cruel reality. I would venture that most of our generation have been victims of bullying.

A major responsibility of teachers who work with children, in addition to teaching their students academic lessons, is teaching their students interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills for children range from speaking clearly in order to express their needs to responding calmly when denied their wants. We want children who are smart, but we want children who know also how to share and play well with one other.

In the summer school program where I work, we designate potty words that no one may use, especially in reference to another student. Just this morning, a student got angry and used a potty word against another student, calling the student “stupid.” As I moved to intervene, another student came over to remind everyone that “stupid” is a potty word. At three and four years of age, these children already know what they should and should not say to one another.

Bullying changes as we grow older, with bullying in elementary school differing significantly from bullying in middle and high school. Elementary school is mostly physical and verbal, but middle school and high school is emotional and silent. With technology that allows people to say anonymously whatever they want, bullying can be hard to stop and even harder detect.

The Huffington Post published an amazing article about a teacher who used apples to explain to her students the hidden, harmful effects of bullying. Teaching for the company Relax Kids, Rosie Dutton turned on the metaphorical lightbulbs in her students' heads with her lessons for ten- to eleven-year-olds in empathy. Her lesson offers a basis for enlightening future generations to the unseen consequences of bullying.

Dutton used apples as visual representations of people. She started with an apple she had repeatedly dropped to the floor but showed no visible damage. Dutton stated her dislike for this apple, insulted it, and then passed it around for her students to do the same.

Then Dutton showed them another apple, one she had not dropped. She praised its lovely color and its perfect stem length and passed the apple around and for her students to praise it too.

Comparing the apples, her students concluded they were the same. Dutton shocked her students when she cut open the apples and showed them the mushy and bruised inside of the insulted apple. Then the lightbulbs went off.

We grow up believing “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” but that could not be further from the truth. Shown the bruised apple, Dutton's students started to relate their own experiences to it. Dutton explained how it taught them the power of their words and the effects of bullying:

Unlike an apple, we have the ability to stop this from happening. We can teach children that it’s not OK to say unkind things to each other and discuss how it makes others feel. ~ Rosie Dutton

This lesson on empathy opened these students’ minds, and I hope more teachers will use this lesson as a basis for their own lessons on empathy and the effects of bullying. Often, children do not know the power of their own words until they are much older, but with a lesson so visual and intuitive, perhaps they will start to understand early that words can hurt.

Cover Image Credit: http://bit.ly/29lbgRM

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.
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Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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Why Ignorance In Our Country Is Not Bliss

And it never will be.

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The saying ignorance is bliss is a bunch of crap. Ignorance is ignorance.

With everything going on in our country, I think it is very important for us to be educating ourselves.

You don't trust the news? Do your own digging.

You don't understand? Do some research.

You don't have the same perspective? Share it.

You only have your religious beliefs to base your knowledge? Learn before you judge.

We live in a scary world today. People judge others they've never met or before they've ever heard their story. People involve themselves in matters that they shouldn't be involved in. People are trying to regulate other people's bodies.

People don't want to learn about the issues they so strongly believe in. People don't want to hear the other side. When did party affiliation become more important than being a human being? When did men get the power to decide what women can do with their bodies? When did we stop being compassionate? When did we stop being decent human beings?

I don't want to live in a world where I have all these questions.

I don't want to live in a world where a judicial system will convict a woman who got an abortion after she was raped, but won't convict her rapist.

I don't want to live in a world where my social media timeline makes me want to cry.

I want to live in a world where everyone's opinion matters, not just the one you agree with.

I want to live in a world where everyone's voice is heard equally, not just the one's in power.

I want to live in a world where everyone's story is taken into consideration, not just the one's the government wants you to hear.

I want to live in a world where I can raise a young girl and not be afraid for her.

I want to live in a world where we do good.

I want to live in a world where we have differences, but that doesn't make us any less equal.

I want to live in a world where we don't judge before we know.

I want to live in a world where religious beliefs are respected.

I want to live in a world where it doesn't matter what political party you are.

I want to live in a world where people see right from wrong.

I want to live in a world where I am not afraid.

What kind of world do you want to live in?

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