"We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give." - Winston Churchill
I want to improve my students' citizenship and mental health by having them experience the powerful and immediate feeling the comes from doing something good for someone else
How can I teach "do-gooding" to my students?
History is is full extraordinary people who are models of self-less living. Having students select and research one of these is a good way to introduce "do-gooding.
To start your list:
1881 - Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross and guided its mission to aid victims of war and natural disasters (tsunami, hurricane, tornado).
1896 - Harriet Tubman risked her life to guide dozens of slaves to freedom and safety. She then spent the rest of her life helping elderly African Americans in Auburn, NY.
1947 - First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, was elected to head the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. She used her position to draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights because she believed that "the lack of standards for human rights the world over is one of the greatest causes of friction among nations".
I'm sure others can add to this list.
I think I would add Mother Teresa to your research list. She was committed to the world's most destitute. She never assumed that everyone was her responsibility but worked with the individual. She started a a group called the Missionaries of Charity with 11 other women which now has over a million people working with orphanages, hospices, and charity centers around the world. She was truly certainly a giving person.
You've been caught doing something nice for someone.
I don't know if this is helpful but I put up two bulletin boards each year, a field of flowers in the Spring and a tree with many colored leaves in the Fall. Students or teachers may select a flower or a leaf and put another student's name on the front with a short sentence on the back describing the good deed they were caught doing for someone else.
Yes, I watch to see that everyone is included if possible. When I take one of the bulletin boards down, I give the flowers/leaves to the person named on the front to take home and read.
Not sure this is "teachable" in the ordinary sense of teaching, but certainly precept and example are good beginnings for giving of ourselves.
I also like the concept of building a "random act of kindness" among the student body and faculty. Perhaps if this idea was introduced and then observed to see what acts of kindness grew within the school environment, that good citizenship and doing good for others would be the result. Might be fun to have the person who received the act of kindness record it on a large chart next to the office.
If I were able to "study" this phenomenon in a school, I'd look for connections while encouraging students to fulfill a responsibility to "pay it forward". This could be a very interesting study but one I'm not equipped to do.
An example of this networking might be when 10 people organize and commit to donating a kidney where the last person is a match for the first person's relative. It is a prime example humanity giving that never ceases to amaze me.