Ben Berger

Roles at NAAEE:

30 Under 30

Founder & Director
The Kindness School Foundation

London, United Kingdom
Age: 28

Ben is a youth advocate for social-emotional learning at primary schools and the importance of human values and skills to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

How are you using education to build more sustainable and equitable communities? 

I emphasize the importance of social-emotional learning (SEL) at primary schools to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 through an educational approach called the Philosophy of Kindness. This teaching approach builds on three pillars: kindness towards ourselves, kindness towards others, and kindness towards the planet and the wider world.

My social enterprise, the Kindness School Foundation, works with over 3,000 schools around the world to promote values of kindness, empathy, and compassion within primary school classrooms. I believe that human values and skills are the fundamental principles of a strong and healthy society, and that they are vital components to empower future generations to take action on climate change.

Tell us about your journey to where you are today. 

It all started with the Kindness Book, a concept which encourages children to document the small acts of kindness they experience in classrooms and to share that story with the person who was kind to them. The book was introduced in over 3,000 classrooms around the world and was soon accompanied by lesson plans and activities around social-emotional learning. Throughout my journey, I have been convinced that, in order to solve global challenges, we must first start with ourselves. I believe that fostering a sense of kindness, empathy, and compassion among the next generation is crucial to tackling climate change and to ensure our next generations do not make the same mistakes as we have.

What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders?

The world is becoming seemingly more dynamic. There is no reason to believe that what we see today cannot be challenged or changed. My advice to the next generation of leaders is to walk with that mindset—that we can change the mechanics of the world, no matter how immotile or gridlocked they may seem.

What keeps you motivated, inspired, and hopeful for the future?

Since launching the Kindness School Foundation, what has kept me motivated is going into schools and seeing the work in action. As an organization, we work with schools from a distance, but interacting with teachers and going into schools keeps reminding me of what I am trying to achieve. I see teachers as the real changemakers in our society, and we have lots to learn from them.

Describe your work in a haiku.

A round world
Yet rough at the edges
Find power in cycles