I sat with a group of middle school kids and pondered the questions, “What does least mean? Who are the least in society? and Who are the least in school?”
The definition of least was viewed as less than, not the most, undesirable, not as much and at the bottom.
They thought that society viewed the following as the least: homeless people, ugly people, obese people, poor people, undocumented people and different people. They also threw in black widow spiders, mosquitoes and their least favorite sports teams.
Following the same thought and applying it to the school setting their belief was that in the school setting the least was defined as: Kindergartners, 7th graders, 9th graders, kids who don’t excel in school, sensitive kids, not popular, socially awkward, ugly, obese and not pretty.
As a way to figure out how to treat others we asked them why they do things. The answers ranged from “because we are told to and there is either a reward or punishment attached”. Clearly the thought did not occur to them that they had a choice and that is our responsibility to make that choice.
With this in mind I am reminded each day in some way how I am treating others. Because if we have a choice (and we do) why not have the motivation to do this simply because it is the right thing to do not for any reward or out of fear of punishment?
I challenge you to have this discussion with your tween or teen and see the outcome of the discussion. Then give them the challenge to champion the people who are viewed as the least in their school.
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