Tagged: “Inherent Worth”

Greater Good in Education Promotes Forgiveness/Character Education

An internationally-acclaimed organization that provides research-based tools for professional educators is touting the most recent International Forgiveness Institute (IFI) curriculum guide by creating an entire “best practices” forgiveness component for educators on its website.

Forgiveness for Elementary School is a collection of four practices that provide students with tools to help them understand and begin a journey toward forgiveness. Published on the Greater Good in Education (GGIE) website, the module is dedicated to helping teachers implement learning techniques that focus on forgiveness, mindfulness, and character education.

Those techniques are presented in the new IFI Curriculum Guide The Courage to Forgive: Educating Elementary School Children About Forgiveness. The guide was written by Dr. Suzanne Freedman, forgiveness researcher and Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Northern Iowa, and Dr. Robert Enright, IFI founder and Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The Courage to Forgive is a social-emotional learning (SEL)/character education teaching guide that features 16 lessons, each approximately 45 minutes in length. It includes a comprehensive 15-page introduction that explains what forgiveness is (and is not) as well as why forgiveness is such a crucial subject for grade school students. The guide becomes the 15th volume in the IFI’s library of curriculum guides (for students in pre-kindergarten through high school) and the 19th educational training program offered by the IFI.

“Although the new curriculum was written specifically with 4th and 5th grade students in mind, it can be used with younger students as well as those in middle school,” according to Dr. Freedman. “We designed it so that the instructional activities can be modified as necessary for different age groups–even adults.”

The GGIE website component includes these four modules which are based on The Courage to Forgive curriculum:

1. Creating Space for Forgiveness by Letting Go of Anger
In this module, students discuss the negative consequences that anger can have, identify the benefits of letting go of anger after expressing it, and brainstorm ideas for how to cope with anger.

2. Introduction to Forgiveness
Students develop a working definition for what forgiveness is and what it is not, and consider its relationship to justice, revenge, the role of apology, and reconciliation.

3. Understanding Inherent Worth: A Path towards Forgiveness
As a class, students read the book Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester to begin a discussion on inherent worth, then think critically about how inherent worth and forgiveness are related.  Links to a virtual reading of the book are included.

4. Learning from Courageous Forgivers
Students read The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles and reflect on the value of being a forgiving person, as exemplified by the story. Again, links to a virtual reading are provided.

 

“Forgiveness education focuses on recognizing and validating students’ anger, as well as teaching students to express emotions in a healthy way, understand the perspective and humanity of others, and practice empathy and compassion toward others,” Dr. Freedman added. “It is almost impossible to go through life without experiencing hurt, and knowing how to forgive gives students the opportunity to choose love and kindness over anger and hatred.”

Greater Good in Education is produced by the University of California-Berkeley’s award-winning Greater Good Science Center (GGSC). The Greater Good Education Program presents education professionals with practical, scientific insights that help them better understand the roots of kind, helpful–or “prosocial”–behavior and emotional well-being, and how they can build those skills in themselves, their colleagues, and their students.

The 65-page The Courage to Forgive curriculum guide is available in downloadable electronic format on the IFI website for $30. GGIE readers are able to purchase the electronic version at a discounted price of just $15.

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You talk about the “worldview” or one’s philosophy or theology in life.  Suppose I forgive but cannot reconcile with the one who hurt me.  Might this lack of reconciliation keep me bitter, keep me mistrustful, and actually not alter my worldview to a more positive state once I forgive?

Forgiving can help us to see the special, unique, and irreplaceable character of each person, not just toward the one you are forgiving.  When this happens, your trust can increase, not toward the one who hurt you and who remains unrepentant, but now toward more people in general.  As you forgive, you realize that all people are capable of love, even though some do not necessarily express it.  Some will choose not to love, in which case your trust remains low toward them, but you also begin to realize that other people, who have the capacity to love, do want to grow in this moral virtue.  It is in this realization by the forgiver that the worldview can become more positive as trust, toward some, is realistically enhanced.

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I forgave my partner and still we have too much conflict. I now hate myself for forgiving and feel weak. What do you think?

I think you might have confused forgiving (a merciful response of being good to those who are not good to you) and reconciliation (two or more people coming together again in mutual trust). If you have no trust, you still can forgive by trying to reduce resentment against the partner and to offer goodness, even from a distance, if you have to leave the relationship. This distinction between forgiving and reconciling may help you to have mercy on yourself now. You have inherent worth no matter what your circumstances. I wish you the best in your decisions.

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From your studies, when in human history was there a first mention of the inherent worth of all persons?

From my own studies, I think this idea of the inherent worth of all persons first appeared in Hebrew scripture thousands of years ago, in their very first book of Hebrew scripture, Genesis 1, where it says that people are made in the image and likeness of God. The idea is repeated in that same chapter. Given that the Hebrews knew God as infinitely worthwhile, it follows that people also have worth, even if they behave unjustly toward you.

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Is indifference toward the person who hurt me considered something negative in the forgiveness process?  I am feeling indifferent.  In the past, the feeling was much more negative than this.

Indifference is not a moral virtue and so it is not what forgiveness is. Yet, feeling indifference may be a transition out of hatred.  If you had deep anger or hatred and now you are indifferent toward the one who hurt you, then you are making progress in forgiving. There is more to your forgiveness journey than this.  Why?  It is because the one who hurt you is a person and all persons can be treated with kindness, respect, generosity, and even love.  So, I urge you to stay on your important forgiveness journey.  Please be encouraged because it seems that you are making progress.

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