Purpose of the Lesson
- Demonstrate to students how their own happiness should not be at the expense of other people’s feelings
- Develop self-awareness of our reactions
- Promote community service projects to build empathy
These discussion questions can be used for discussion purposes, role-plays, for writing prompts, or for topics of debate to teach appropriate ways to argue a point.
- 1. “I am SO excited! I just got chosen for… ”
Hey, we’re all happy for you. What about the kids who wasn’t chosen? Could your excitement and gloating make them feel badly?
- 2. “Ummm…yeah, I guess so. I just didn’t think about that, I was so happy for myself ”
The purpose of the last question wasn’t to make you feel badly about your accomplishments; you certainly should be proud of yourself. Accomplishing a tough task or being selected to represent the best of JJL is something to be proud of. The issue, really, is how you react in front of others. The others might lose with grace, and say, “Oh well, I’ll try something else.” However, other people take the loss a lot harder, and when someone else wins and “uber-celebrates,” it really does hurt their feelings.
- 3. “So, you’re telling me I can’t celebrate? That’s so bogus! I worked hard ”
Of course you worked hard. There’s a fine line between being proud of your hard work and gloating.
- 4. “What’s gloating?”
“Gloating” is when you express great, sometimes malicious, or smug self-satisfaction. Malicious gloating when you rub it in someone else’s face that “I made it and you didn’t, ha ha.” Smug gloating is when you are so excited you forget how the ones who weren’t chosen feel. Gloating goes beyond happy acceptance of your good fortune. Think about it this way; most of our students are fortunate to have a roof over their heads each night. You’re happy about that, and most of you would have empathy (understanding for the feelings) for the kids who DON’T have shelter or enough food. You don’t gloat about the fact that you have a home to live in, because you know that would make the other person feel sad.
Sure, that’s a “big” thing. However, the little things hurt too; not being chosen in an election, or for a team, or for a piece you wrote, or not doing well on a test, or not making the honor roll, or…well, you get the idea. Generally, they can deal with not being chosen, but it’s hard for the not chosen to be happy for the chosen when the chosen dance, scream and act over-excited about being chosen. Before you celebrate, think about where you are; be happy for yourself, but understand that the other kid’s disappointment is also a valid feeling. Tell them you’re sorry they didn’t make it…and mean it, sincerely. If you can’t do that, then hold the celebration to a more appropriate time.
- Give praise or other appropriate reward to a student when you see them not gloating about an achievement. Give verbal recognition as well. Sometimes we adults do the same things the kids do, unaware of how another person might feel.
- Define the difference between sympathy and empathy. Sympathy is when you have been through the same situation (e.g., loss of a family member) and empathy is when you try to understand but have not been in the situation (e.g., being bullied).