In an increasingly globalized world, where human suffering is more visible than ever, compassion offers us a compass: a way of being that points us toward promoting cooperation, fostering trust, ameliorating conflict, enabling human flourishing and healing the environment. In that regard, the benefits of practicing compassion in the classroom cannot be underestimated. The contagious effect has the power to transform classroom culture into a place where students feel like they belong and to make them feel they can change the world.
To help my students face the litany of seemingly endless humanitarian crises these days, I maintain the logic of the maxim “think globally, act locally.” I encourage them to think about the entire planet as they take action in their own communities by emanating or “mapping” compassion at every possible level: within oneself; as a neighbor; in their community; and as part of the world.
The New York Times has provided excellent resources to accompany this framework that have helped me and my students further define compassion, evaluate its importance in the cultivation of well-being and citizenship and consider strategies for implementation in various political situations.
How Self-Compassionate Are You? A Quiz
As any educator can attest, the process of understanding others begins with understanding oneself.
As an icebreaker or think-pair-share, I have my students take this self-compassion quiz that measures how much self-kindness or harsh self-judgment they show themselves. Their results often reveal that being kind to yourself is not always easy.