Monthly Archives: March 2017

Some Important Reasons For Teaching Kindness in Schools

Most people have heard the phrase ‘random acts of kindness’, which refers to a selfless act of giving resulting in the happiness of another person. Terms like this are increasing in popularity around the world, as more people identify a deficiency in their lives that can only be fulfilled by altruism.

It seems we just can’t get enough of those addictive feel good emotions and with good reason.

Scientific studies have shown that kindness has a great number of physical and emotional benefits, and that children require a healthy dose of the warm and fuzzies in order to flourish as health, happy, well-rounded individuals.

Patty O’Grady, PhD, is an expert in the area of neuroscience, emotional learning, and positive psychology with special attention to the educational arena. She believes that “kindness changes the brain by the experience of kindness. Children and adolescents do not learn kindness by only thinking about it and talking about it. Kindness is best learned by feeling it so that they can reproduce it. Kindness is an emotion that students feel and empathy is a strength that they share.”

A great number of benefits have been reported to support the theory of teaching kindness in schools:

1. Happy Children

Science explains that the good feelings we experience when being kind are produced by endorphins that activate areas of the brain that are associated with pleasure, social connection and trust, and it’s proven that these feelings of joyfulness are contagious, encouraging more kind behaviour by the giver and recipient.

2. Increased Peer Acceptance

Research on the subject has determined that kindness increases our ability to form meaningful connections with others. Studies show that kind, happy children enjoy greater peer acceptance because they are well-liked and that better than average mental health is reported in classrooms that practice more inclusive behaviour due to an even distribution of popularity.

3. Improved Health and Less Stress

It’s widely documented that being kind can trigger a release of the hormone oxytocin which has a number of physical and mental health benefits as it can significantly increase a person’s level of happiness and reduce stress. More recently though, it’s been found it plays a significant role in the cardiovascular system, helping protect the heart by lowering blood pressure and reducing free radicals and inflammation, which incidentally speed up the aging process.

4. Greater Sense of Belonging and Improved Self Esteem

Studies show that people experience a ‘helpers high’ when they do a good deed, a rush of endorphins that creates a lasting sense of pride, wellbeing and an enriched sense of belonging. Even small acts of kindness are reported to heighten our sense of wellbeing, increase energy and give a wonderful feeling of optimism and self worth.

5. Increased Feelings of Gratitude

When children are part of projects that help others less fortunate than themselves, it provides them with a real sense of perspective and helps them appreciate the good things in their own lives.

6. Better Concentration and Improved Results

As it increases serotonin, which plays an important part in learning, memory, mood, sleep, health and digestion, kindness is a key ingredient that helps children feel good. Having a positive outlook allows them greater attentions spans and enables more creative thinking to produce better results at school.

7. Less Bullying

Two Penn State Harrisburg faculty researchers, Shanetia Clark and Barbara Marinak say, “unlike previous generations, today’s adolescents are victimizing each other at alarming rates.” They argue adolescent bullying and youth violence can be confronted through in-school programs that integrate “kindness — the antithesis of victimization.”

Many traditional anti-bullying programs focus on the negative actions that cause children anxiety and often with little impact. Teaching kindness and compassion in schools, not only fosters the positive behaviour that creates warm and inclusive school environments, but helps children feel that they belong. It’s documented that the effects of bullying can be significantly reduced by integrating kindness based programs in schools.

8. Reduced Depression

Dr. Wayne Dyer, internationally renowned author and speaker, says research has discovered that an act of kindness increases levels of serotonin (a natural chemical responsible for improving mood) in the brain. It’s also found that serotonin levels are increased in both the giver and receiver of an act of kindness, as well as anyone who witnesses that kindness, making it a wonderful natural antidepressant.

Maurice Elias, a professor at Rutgers University Psychology Department says that “as a citizen, grandparent, father, and professional, it is clear to me that the mission of schools must include teaching kindness. Without it, communities, families, schools, and classrooms become places of incivility where lasting learning is unlikely to take place.

We need to be prepared to teach kindness, because it can be delayed due to maltreatment early in life. It can be smothered under the weight of poverty, and it can be derailed by victimization later in life. Yet despite these and other travails, the receipt of kindness and the ability to show kindness through service are both growth enhancing and soul cleansing.

Kindness can be taught, and it is a defining aspect of civilized human life. It belongs in every home, school, neighborhood, and society.”

It’s become quite clear that modern education must encompass more than just academics, that in order for children to develop into happy, confident, well-rounded individuals, matters of the heart must be taken seriously and nurtured as a matter of priority.

Use Online Learning media to Improve Your Education

Online education has made it easier to get a music degree or nursing degree. Learning online has enabled many people to get a better education. If you know how to surf the Internet, then you have knowledge at your fingertips.

It is no longer necessary to travel long distances and sacrifice work and family in order to expand your skill set and your knowledge. You can get a degree online or in a hybrid arrangement that allows you to do most of your studies on the Internet while you visit a campus for hands-on training. Consider these examples.

Online Paralegal Degree
A bachelor degree in paralegal studies can get you into the legal world without having to acquire training in law. Paralegals do most of the research and prepare cases for lawyers. The only thing that a paralegal cannot do is represent clients in court.

Thanks to the Internet, you can now do much of the class work and reading online. You do not have to lose time traveling to a campus and sitting in a classroom. The Internet can bring all the resources you need to study into your home or any where with access to the online world.

Online Music Degree
A music degree is a good example of a course of study that can benefit from a hybrid approach to distance learning. You will need to study theory. There is no need to take that class on a campus. Instead, you could easily listen to music samples and evaluate them online.

Other classes may require you to play instruments or participate with your instructor in musical performance. By allowing the flexibility which distance learning offers, instructors can adapt courses to meet the needs of students of all kinds. This is especially true for those beginning a second career or simply trying to get a degree that they always wished they had.

Nursing Degree
Some degrees, such as a nursing degree, require a lot of hands-on training. However, even a nursing degree has prerequisites which include a lot of reading and writing. These courses are ideal candidates for distance learning and online education.

Eventually, in a course of study that required hands on experience such as a nursing degree, you will need work on campus or at another specified location. That does not mean, though, that the online world has lost all use for you. No matter how much time is spent on campus, the Internet is always a valuable resource to have.

Even courses which require daily meetings in a classroom can profit from using the technology that makes distance learning possible. Students can save money by purchasing electronic textbooks and bringing them to their classes on laptop computers. Instructors now have access to any video or audio presentation that they think will be helpful to their classes.

Whether you want a paralegal degree, a music degree or a nursing degree, you will find the Internet to be helpful. It can offer mountains of valuable information. It can also make it possible for you to enhance your knowledge without having to give up your job.

How to Learn and Develop Study Skills

Study skills refer to the ability to read, memorize and retain class portions, text book content and other study materials. Developing study skills depend on individual’s capability, grasping power, interests, environment and self discipline. Here are some methods to develop study skills and hone them better with few useful techniques.

1. Visualization

This method refers to seeing imagery through the mind on what has been taught, including block diagrams, pictures, matching real world objects with the concepts read. It also develops your creativity, imagination and cognitive skills.

2. Group Study

Joining a study group on few topics lets members to share and collaborate among others. The study materials can be divided for individual preparations, which then can be delivered as a short session or flash cards to other members in the study group. This is one of the most common study methods.

3. Writing what you read

Writing whatever you have just read immediately helps to retain the fresh knowledge and also boost your confidence in the exam. Apart from that, you can train yourself to be patient to really absorb the knowledge through hard work and also improve written communication skills.

4. Learning by doing

This is one best form of developing a study skill – doing things practically based on what one read in the text book although it may not be possible to experiment or implement everything practically. One has to develop the habit of experiencing them practically if there any opportunity exists. For example, college lab exercises, applying them on real world situations.

5. Flash cards

This is the most common method of keeping tab of topics read. It is done through a small post card where key words are noted down for quick reference. Majority of the students keep them handy instead of keeping complete notes or text books. This helps in developing hints to the topics and improvising the whole content from the keywords.

6. Mind maps

It is the best technique to relate topics and associate links among them. Mind map is a powerful tool which follows a tree or hierarchical structure to a particular topic. It is also a great brainstorming method to generate more ideas for essay writing, comprehension, and critical thinking. It sharpens the thought process by looking at various perspectives to the subject.

7. Group discussion and quizzes

Revise the topics through a group discussion with friends to further improve your memory. It is better to allot 30 minutes of time for discussion and clarifications. To make it more interesting, conduct small quizzes through rapid fire rounds, puzzles and other form of investigative learning. This also builds communication and social skills.

8. Relaxation methods

It is vital to keep a healthy mind and body. Taking breaks and rests for 10-15 minutes between studies keeps the mind relaxed. It is recommended to have a minimum of seven hours sound sleep. It rejuvenates both body and mind. The mental pressure can be released by playing sports, doing work outs and spending quality time with family and friends. Practicing meditation, deep breathing exercises and yoga are great methods to improving concentration and focus.

In summary, study skills are both innate and acquired by nature. They may vary across individuals but several common and working practices can be derived and applied by all students to hone and improvise their existing skills.

Improve the Quality of Higher Education Program in Vietnam

The United States Agency for International Development, otherwise known as USAID, is a US federal government agency that’s fundamentally accountable for administering civilian foreign aid to several countries around the globe.

The grants and programs of the USAID are all tailored to aid in the accomplishment of its general agency mission which is to”extend a helping hand to those people overseas struggling to make a better life, recover from a disaster or battling to live in a free and democratic country.”

In line with this mission, the United States Agency for International Development Headquarters in Bangkok has recently established the Improving Higher Education Quality Program in Vietnam.

The program intends to fortify the human and institutional capacity of local Vietnamese higher education institutions, in an effort to create and administer quality education programs, training, and various research programs that support important economic expansion.

USAID has explained this programme resulted from the movement of Vietnam, turning into a middle-income country standing, instead of originally being a low-income country. Due to this speedily changing industrial landscape, the education system of the country is suffering from incredible pressure.

The Improving Higher Education Quality Program attempts to remedy that concern, by way of constituting programs and activities that can potentially leave behind academic legacies which are highly capable of providing effective human capital development.

Among all of the areas of concern are the educations system’s institutional differentiation and autonomy, training, pay, and promotion of professors, reconstruction of instructional strategies, development of 21st century education managers and leaders, and eventually, the development and usage of relevant curriculum.

In its Higher Education Reform Agenda (HERA), the Vietnamese government has said that the education system will be critically improved through improving the standard of teaching and research, extending the autonomy of higher education institutions specifically in academic and administrative matters, with an end goal of improving responsiveness to the requirements of beneficiaries; and finally, increasing private sector investments.

The recipients of the grant award will be tasked to develop programs and initiatives that will address these concerns, and as a result, the USAID Headquarters in Bangkok is ready to administer a funding amount of $2,500,000 to help this initiative.

USAID has stipulated that the organizations and institutions who will be eligible to submit an application under this program are the following:

a) US or non-US non-governmental organizations (NGOs)

b) Non-profit or for-profit setups

c) Academic institutions

d) Private sector entities.