Cate Denial Emphasizes Power of Student-centered Kindness

Posted On: 2022-04-22

Why not be kind?

This is the question that was posed to Cate Denial midway through her teaching career, a question that changed everything for her.

Cate Denial’s Spring Faculty Conference workshop focused on the ways that Covid has changed us, has changed our students, and by extension, must change the way we think about teaching. For Denial, the answer involves openly acknowledging the pain, loss, disruption and isolation that the pandemic has brought into our lives and our classrooms and using kindness and trust as the foundation of how we move forward. Her talk centered on concrete practices that faculty can implement to ensure that students are recognized, welcomed and valued for the diverse, complicated and creative individuals they are. She stresses that now is the perfect time to embrace a pedagogy of kindness because it is only once we have been through collective hardship that we come to know and understand just how transformational human kindness can be.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend. 

Naomi Shihab Nye


Faculty will be sent highlights of this powerful workshop, as well as access to the full recording, later today. The full recording will also be available via the CELT website.