Speaker: Andy Smallman

Kindness as an Avenue to Awe

What would happen if schools focused on kindness and gratitude before achievement and academics? This is a question that Andy Smallman not only entertained, but also acted upon. In 1994, Andy with a group of dedicated parents and their children started Puget Sound Community School [PSCS] “founded upon the belief that people are intrinsically compelled by their own curiosity and desires to learn, and when provided a positive and supportive environment…will enthusiastically pursue meaningful and challenging tasks.” 

At PSCS, kindness was not just a concept, it was part of the curriculum—a class. The kindness class became so successful, that Smallman offered an online version open to the general public. 250 “students” from around the world joined the class and practiced random acts of kindness that rippled out in their communities. In 2011, Andy created a website called Kind Living which offers self-paced kindness classes.

But Smallman didn’t stop there. In 2012, Andy was asked to adapt the kindness class for The Compassion Games, an annual event in September in which cities all over the world compete cooperatively to determine which is the most compassionate. So Andy developed The Secret Agent of Compassion, a “coopetition” (cooperative competition) between cities based on compassionate acts.

Smallman, who is excited about how awe “has become a secular, or generally acceptable, way to refer to the divine,” sees kindness as “both an avenue in to recognizing awe, and is the result of experiencing awe.” 

Don’t miss this awesome conversation with kindness educator, inventor, and warrior Andy Smallman.   

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