|Children at play in Quebec City -- June 2011. I took this picture.|
My students were a disparate group of preteens and teenagers undergoing the dramatic physical, mental, and social changes that mark the transition from childhood to young adulthood. How did I begin to engage twenty-five to thirty eighth graders in a pertinent discussion to lay the groundwork for the dynamics in the classroom?
For our initial meeting, all eyes were on me. As you can imagine, I needed them to buy into my "rules and procedures". So, what did I say to make my words personal and relevant to these children with their varied life experiences? What did I say that would resonate with each and every one of them?
First, I presented little scenarios to help them recall their thoughts and feelings in certain situations. As they thought about which kinds of situations, behaviors, and environments made them comfortable or uncomfortable, we discussed how we could each make others more comfortable. At this point, I had their attention. That's when I presented the cardinal rule for all relationships. I proposed that they treat their classmates the way that they themselves wanted to be treated. This revelation got nods of approval from some, as if it were their idea. From the knowing smiles on other faces, I saw that they recognized this as the "Golden Rule" Christ gave to all mankind.
Jesus spoke these words to the multitudes in his Sermon on the Mount. Christ wants us to live this way. Practicing the Golden Rule is practicing brotherly love, which works no ill against another. All relationships would be enhanced if people lived Christ's command.
Our challenge is to practice the Golden Rule in all relationships, even in difficult relationships and encounters. After all, Christ's commands are the "gold standard".
"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets" Matthew 7:12 (KJV).
Sweet granddaughters Madison and Mckenzie.