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November, 1998

it’s fun to be nice

Location:
Krokelvdal Elementary School, UNESCO Associated Schools Project
Ms. Ingrid Hernes, School Director – e-mail: ingridhernes@hotmail.com.

Presented by:
Ms. K. Pettersen, Gender Co-ordinator, Norwegian Ministry of Education
e-mail: kp@kuf.dep.telemax.no.

Best Practice:
Recognizing that he no longer received attention from his teachers and that his well-behaved classmates were receiving increased attention, a young man at Krokelvdal Elementary School decided to change his behavior pattern. After noticing his improved conduct in the classroom, his teacher asked, "why have you become so well behaved?" The young man responded, "Because it’s fun to be nice." This often retold story is typical of the changes that have been taking place at the Krokelvdal School as part of their UNESCO Associated Schools Program project it’s fun to be nice.

The project is about noticing positive behavior in girls and boys and rewarding the good behavior with attention. As part of the UNESCO Associated Schools Program, the Krokelvdal School has deliberately and systematically been working with the pupils’ social development and has focused on positive reinforcement using positive communication techniques.

Learning by positive reinforcement has had an especially positive effect on the quiet and dutiful pupils. By focusing on what pupils did correctly and well, girls became more visible in the classroom and school. The girls were encouraged to indicate their own needs, set limits, have their say, raise their voices and take the lead. The project has given the boys the possibility to develop their social competencies by developing characteristics such as empathy and caring, holding "confidential" conversations, vocalizing their feelings, solving conflicts without violence, and learning social responsibility.

The Krokelvdal School project has also been concerned with raising the adults’ level of awareness and their ability to react. One of the basic views of the project is that adults need insight into their own behavior in order to work systematically towards changing children’s behavioral patterns. School officers believe that it is only when they become aware of their own attitudes that they are able to alter their behavior. They also view the mood in the children’s groups as being related to the level of consciousness and consideration exhibited in the behavior of adults with whom the children interact.

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