Bright Side

A Teacher Asked Children to Share What Worries Them Anonymously. Her Story Encouraged 500,000 People

“What is emotional baggage?” these are the words that started one of the first working days in a US middle school. A teacher with 22 years of experience, Karen Loewe, who works with 7th and 8th graders decided to try to help her students beat their everyday stress. When she published a post about this on Facebook, more than 500,000 people shared it and then this experiment was done by teachers from other countries, including Australia, China, and Pakistan.

Bright Side decided to tell you about a simple idea that allowed Karen to become closer to her students and give them their first lesson in empathy.

Imagine that you spend 6-7 hours in an office per day where you can’t even go to the toilet without asking permission and your colleagues giggle every time the boss says something about you. Almost every day, you have to worry about not having prepared your reports on time and you have to do boring tasks. This is what school is like for most students. Studies showed that 2 out of 3 students are bored during lessons every day and many students who are older than 8 years old even feel unhappy.

Also, if they have trouble in their family, then the emotional load becomes way too big for a normal child. And they are not always ready to share their problems with others.

Karen Loewe found a way to solve this problem. On August 22, 2019, she decided to give students a lesson where they could share what worried them, which then made the atmosphere in the classroom more friendly.

“I asked them to write down on a piece of paper what was bothering them, what was heavy on their heart, what was hurting them, etc. This was anonymous, I told them not to write their name on the paper. They wadded the paper up, and threw it across the room,” says Karen.

After that, the students took the pieces of paper in turns and read what was written there. The decision of whether to tell the class that it was their note was up to the children themselves.

The things the students wrote shocked Karen. Some children talked about the death of their relatives, cancer, the divorce of their parents, and some talked about suicide, taking drugs, and their families. Many children were crying when they were reading other people’s notes because their emotional baggage was so heavy. Only one story was funny: one boy said his gerbil died because it was fat.

After all the notes were read, Karen told to the students that they weren’t alone and that they were loved. And then she put the bag with the notes at the door as a reminder that all of us have our own emotional baggage.

Karen said that after she asked the children to share their “baggage,” they started to treat each other with more respect. They didn’t interrupt each other, they were not rude, and they were more likely to share the things they felt. In an interview with The Today Show, the teacher said that children can be more honest with adults, but they need more time to open up.

Do you think that a good teacher is supposed to only be good at explaining their subject to their students or should they also be a friend and/or a mentor? Maybe, the school system is outdated and now children need to learn not only how to calculate and read, but also how to communicate with each other respectfully and in a tolerant way?

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