Updated: Jun 27, 2019
In a study led by Rick Weissbourd through the Harvard Graduate School of Education through the Making Caring Common Project, students were asked to rank what they felt was most important: academic achievement, kindness, and their own happiness. They were also asked to rank what they felt their parents value most. What researchers found was that, although parents say they value kindness over academic achievement, kids are getting the opposite message, ranking academic achievement over everything else. Students reported that their parents appreciated achievement much more than happiness or kindness. They were three times as likely, for example, to agree with the statement "My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my classes than if I'm a caring community member."
At Einstein Academy, we believe that social emotional growth is just as important for our students as academic growth, so in addition to our focus on REAL Learning, we also prioritize our EPIC Values of empathy, perseverance, impact, and curiosity.
Empathy - Understand each other and show kindness
As Mark Ruffalo and Murray explain on Sesame Street, empathy is being “able to understand and care about how someone else is feeling.” According to Forbes magazine, it’s one of the core five traits necessary for leadership. Empathy is at the heart of creating a strong community and is also essential to positively contributing to the world around us. While some students are naturally authentic, others needs support in fostering this capacity, so we work with all students to better understand each other and to use empathy when identifying problems in the community that they can help to solve.
Perseverance - Seek challenges and persist despite difficulty
Basketball great Michael Jordan has shared, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed” and our very own Albert Einstein stated, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” The idea of perseverance is based in Jewish values, however with a line in Ethics of Our Fathers reading, “It is not upon you to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” We work with our students to understand the value and reward of trying something hard and overcoming obstacles, supporting them in their struggles and reflecting with them on the process.
Impact - Act with intent and create a positive effect
Newton’s third law of physics says that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Everything we say or do has an impact on those around us and on our community, and we work with our students to understand that and to use that to positively impact those around them. Whether it’s knowing the impact an unkind word can have on a classmate or understanding the impact an elementary school student can have on drawing attention to a particular cause, we foster within our students a sense of agency and work with them to most effectively use that agency in line with our Jewish values.
Curiosity - Ask questions and explore to find answers
As the book Wait, What? by James Ryan explains, “Questions are like keys, the right question asked at the right time, will open a door to something you don’t yet know, something you haven’t yet realized, or something you haven’t even considered about others or about yourself.” Asking questions is the basis for all understanding. By asking questions and seeking answers, we become less reliant on our own assumptions and more interested in engaging with the world around us. We encourage our students to ask questions and equip them with the tools to seek answers.
These social emotional capacities form the foundation for other aspects of student growth and happiness. As Weissbourd shared, “I think that the irony is that when kids are caring and really able to tune in and take responsibility for other people, they are going to have better relationships, and those relationships are probably the most important aspect of happiness.”
At Einstein Academy, our students are encouraged and pushed and supported to grow both academically and social emotionally...and to be happy.