Paul L. Caron

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Random Acts of Academic Kindness

Random 2Inside Higher Ed:  Kindness Is Possible:

Word association game time.

First word: Academic.

Chances are, “kindness” wasn’t the first thing that came to mind. (Indeed, much has been said and written about the abundance of just the opposite in academe: pettiness, to put it nicely.) But a new blog aims to change that. The Academic Kindness Tumblr is a place for students and professors to post random and not-so-random acts of kindness they’ve witnessed during their studies or work, to remind themselves and others that colleges and universities may not be so inhospitable after all.

The Tumblr seeks “outtakes from peer reviews, emails, marginal comments on seminar papers, and other examples of kindness to publish as a testimony that not all academics are brutish self-centered narcissists who delight in tearing apart the work of others for sport,” according to a post from its moderator, Rabia Gregory, an assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Missouri at Columbia. “Many more do pay it forward with gifts of time, inspirational words, and random acts of kindness. By publicizing these acts of academic kindness I hope to document that generosity and compassion are normative in academia.”

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"A long, long time ago in a nation far away" in golden letters flowing away to infinity on the screen. In 1972 I was a dogface infantry private in the First of the Thirty eight in South Korea. There were not quite as many diversions available as I would have liked. A couple of courses were offered in continuing adult education and I signed up for one. To my surprise my instructor was the Dean of Men from the Prestigious University of Seoul. He was taking the time twice a week to drive up to camp Hovey (just 11 clicks south of the Z) to teach a class to a bunch of GI's. He felt indebted to the US and this was one (only one) of the ways he was working on payback.

He was an impressive gentleman. Made class interesting and fun, and was one of many things I remember fondly about the nation of South Korea. His time and trouble were a personal act of kindness to a small number of yanks. Most of the Korean people I met I remember as honest and hard working. I also have reason to think of Koreans as polite (with sometimes shocking differences in culture), educated and intelligent.

Posted by: Ted | Jan 13, 2014 9:25:54 AM

How about just getting these people to do their jobs without polluting the classrooms with their biases? That would be kind of kind.

Posted by: Paul A'Barge | Jan 13, 2014 8:56:41 AM