Kind o'r Smart

Today we, Alex, LP and I, were talking about values with our friends who are local Mongolian English teachers and one my favorite teachers Enebish said, “I would like to teach my students that they don’t have to be the smartest student, but they can all be kind. I think this is the most important value.” Other teachers went on to say that they wanted students to be more confident, to speak up more in class, to be more talented in the English language and so on. One teacher said one of her students who barely spoke English before has gotten much more confident in the language and is now winning bigger awards year by year. We are happy for this girl, but I couldn’t help but wonder about the rest of the students.

I think it is better to be kind than smart. For certain one is much more in our control than the other. I recognize that we give awards to Valedictorians and not to the nicest kid in class, but I wish we did. Take Forrest Gump as an example: my favorite thing about him is how much he did with what he had. He was not the smartest person in the movie (“Are you stupid or something?” he’s often asked), but he was by far the wisest character (“Stupid is as stupid does,” he always responded). He was simple, gentle, loyal, generous, brave, honest and maybe more than anything else he was kind.

I think Forrest represents the best in us so well not in spite of his aptitude but because aptitude is not what makes us valuable. There is goodness in all of us. We can choose to live wisely. We can choose to be kind. That makes us immensely valuable and special. Like Enebish said, I think that’s what we need to encourage in our children and in our schools.