No matter how old you are, you can take simple actions to change somebody’s day, and maybe one day, even the world. The young Pre-Primary students of Penrhos College in Perth are living proof.
Learn from their journey with using Solution Fluency how little it takes to bring kindness and joy into someone’s life, and see how our kids set a compassionate example for us all to live by.
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted,” said Aesop. Ask the residents of Rowethorpe Aged Care Village near Perth, Australia, and they’d probably agree with you. Sometimes a simple act of kindness can completely transform your life.
That’s what happens when you get a surprise visit from the Pre-Primary students of Penrhos College and get a dose of compassion, laughter, and love from young learners who want to make a difference to somebody’s otherwise ordinary day.
A young learner from Penrhos College greets a resident of Rowethorpe
To understand how this all happened, we need to begin as all learning and transformation begin—with a question. In this case, teachers Jocelyn Field and Amber Chrystal asked the young learners of Penrhos, “Who needs kindness in the world?”
This led them to take a closer look at their own community and everyone in it, and what they could do to spread kindness by starting closer to home.
Penrhos College believes that to help their young ladies become global citizens and change-makers, one thing they must develop is empathy. Amber and Jocelyn looked to the Essential Fluencies to guide them. “We have been using the Fluencies for nearly two years now,” they claim. “They allow for the students to use a problem-solving process in their learning.”
Using the Solution Fluency Model, the Pre-Primary students began with defining a problem they wanted to address in their community through acts of empathy and kindness.
"The Fluencies have assisted us in Pre-Primary to plan, engage and teach our students strategically and systematically."
Amber describes it this way: “We began with a project on kindness, and from that, the students investigated who in our community might need kindness.” Jocelyn adds, “We asked the girls to look into the community and think about where there might be people who were needing help, maybe those a little less fortunate than themselves.”
The students immediately surmised that those in the elderly community might be suffering from loneliness or from being sad, and vowed to do something about it.
The students then chose to give their attention to the elderly residents of Rowethorpe Aged Care Village in Bentley, a suburb south of Perth. Their mission was to do whatever they could to spread happiness, love, and kindness to those living there. So the students set about designing ways they could do this, using all sorts of creative channels including writing, drawing, crafting, and more.
Jocelyn and Amber were just as excited on the big day as their students were to see what kind of joy they could spread. “I’m looking forward to watching some kindness bloom,” Amber said.
Teachers Jocelyn Field and Amber Chrystal join in the fun at Rowethorpe
Some of what the kids did for their new friends at Rowethorpe included:
- Writing an original book of jokes
- A “Happy Jar” full of inspiring messages
- Poetry recitals, singing, and dancing
- Performing magic tricks
- Presenting hand-made gifts
Afterwards, as the girls left Rowethorpe, the seniors agreed that the students had done their job well. “I hope it’s not the last time we see them,” said one resident. “I hope they’ll be back again.”
The Kindness Project at Rowethorpe was a smashing success. As a learning experience, it was even better. These were the takeaways for the students, teachers, and the whole school.
The Penrhos College learners were both excited and inspired by taking the lead in the Kindness Project. Here's how it benefitted them:
- Responsibility for learning has shifted to the students themselves.
- Students are exercising their inherent creativity and ingenuity through applying Solution Fluency.
- Students are at the heart of the learning process, where they should be.
- The students have demonstrated a high level of engagement in what they are learning and how they are learning it.
Amber and Jocelyn were amazed at what their students have achieved, and couldn't be more proud. They experienced some revelations of their own as well, and have spread the word to their colleagues at Penrhos.
- Teachers have assumed the roles of facilitators and “guides on the side” as students take the lead in learning.
- The Essential Fluencies offer more opportunity for formative feedback and learning differentiation.
- The Fluencies processes allow teachers to connect content topics to students’ interests and increase student engagement.
Ultimately any shift of pedagogy and philosophy will have a lasting effect on the whole-school culture. After working with Wabisabi, this is what's happening at Penrhos College.
- Teachers have new insights on how to relinquish control to students for their learning while still achieving curriculum objectives and demonstrable student growth.
- There is a more rooted culture of collaboration between students and teachers as well as between the teachers themselves.
- Students are more empowered to adjust their lifestyles to develop solutions for real-world problems that matter.