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Learning how to be kind and courteous helps everyone

Kidsday reporter Samantha Lips of Stony Brook with

Kidsday reporter Samantha Lips of Stony Brook with courtesy cards. Photo Credit: Paul Wilgenkamp

Have you ever had someone walk up to you and give you a compliment or say something nice that brightens your day? If so, how did you feel when you were treated this way? In my class, this happens every day because we have courtesy cards.

A courtesy card is a card that says something courteous you have to do on it. For example, say, “Good morning, how are you?” to somebody. You are given a card each morning when you come in, and you have to complete the task you are given.

Paul Wilgenkamp, my sixth-grade teacher, wants all of his students to be courteous and kind to one another.

He believes a positive environment is crucial to learning. One year in his class there were girls who were coming in vilifying and excluding one another. According to Mr. Wilgenkamp, it was a terrible environment. That’s when he came up with the idea of making courtesy cards. He explained that in the karate school he owned, students followed their founder (Gichen Funakoshi’s) rules or principles — to seek perfection in character, to be sincere and honest, to show strong spirit, to practice courtesy, to control bad temper. In the beginning of class, they would recite them. He brought these rules to his classroom at Minnesauke. He wanted to give students the opportunity to practice courtesy, “Because just like math and science, kids need to practice to get better,” stated Mr. Wilgenkamp.

As you can see, this is a great idea of how to keep kindness and respect in his classroom, and other areas in the school, and just in general. I think eventually it becomes a habit, and kids will be saying and doing courteous things without a card.

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