Inculcating Compassion among children & Practicing Compassionate Motivation in School Teaching
Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive
–Dalai Lama XIV.
This is not a cliché but a necessity of our times. This is true religion. Love for others and concern for their dignity are all we need in this egotistical world. Only then we will experience unalloyed happiness.
When we are motivated by these things the results of our actions benefit everyone and we are able to condone inconsiderate actions of the past and constructively solve the problems of the present.
I think the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the practice of love, empathy and compassion which ultimately puts you at ease and brings equanimity in you. Now the question arises how do we get equanimity? Simple – by having an open mind. The mind that you carry right now is a collection, an accumulation. If you leave it behind and walk away, then you are in your original mind and love, compassion and empathy is well, within you. I believe that: Work is an expression of who you are, so who you are needs to be worked at.
As a teacher, I follow and keep advising the staff also to follow Compassionate Motivation which means, as a teacher we motivate our students to do well in studies. But if we are compassionate towards our students, if we really feel from within that the child is not doing well in academics he/she will suffer, then we can communicate better with them, the inner strength will help us spontaneously connect within them. So in short Compassionate Motivation means if I feel for the student, I will be able to motivate him/her better. As I think: Every child is special in his own way and the best brains may be found on the last benches of the classroom – A P J Abdul Kalam.
As a teacher, the cultivation of compassion is an important part of my daily teaching practice. One aspect of my work involves merely sitting quietly in my office room. That can be very good and very comfortable, but the true aim of cultivation of compassion is to develop the courage to think about others and to do something for them. For example, as a teacher and an administrator, I have a responsibility towards all the parents, who trusted me and handed over their bundle of joy to us so that we can carve them into gems. This responsibility means that I have to confront and deal with many problems.
Imbibing compassion into children is no small feature these days in school teaching. Because of the egocentrism of children’s early years combined with the increasingly prevalent messages of selfishness and indifference that popular culture communicates to them, children are not likely to readily learn compassion on their own. This means that we as teachers have to make an extra effort to instill this essential value in our children’s lives.
Children’s ability to care about others must be nurtured in early years of schooling and woven into the very fabric of their life. The wonderful thing about compassion is that there are so many conduits through which we can communicate its messages that can impact the children. When we immerse our children in a sea of messages of compassion, they are all but assured of getting the messages loud and clear.
As a teacher we send the most powerful messages about compassion to our children by living and expressing those messages in our own life. If we lead a compassionate life, our children will get this message frequently and consistently, and will likely internalize it in their own lives.
I would also like to advise parents to help children in being compassionate. Expressions of compassion in your life are communicated to your children in several ways, both obvious and subtle. Your children, particularly when they’re young, will most notice the larger compassionate acts you engage in, for example, volunteering your time for a worthy cause. As your children get older and begin to grasp the subtleties of compassion, they will also see the smaller expressions of compassion you make, such as comforting them when they scrape their knee or assuming dinner duties when your spouse is stressed out from work. Even smaller acts of compassion for example, being kind to the house maid, offer your children more subtle lessons about the depth and breadth of living a compassionate life.
As your children mature, you can begin to talk to them directly about compassion. This conduit enables them to develop an intellectual understanding of what compassion is and the role it can play in their lives. You can explain what compassion is and why it is important to them, your family, and the world. The way to really reinforce this message is to offer your children examples of compassion. Point out ways in which your children can express compassion in your family, for example, being kind to their siblings. You can also highlight ways they can show compassion toward their community and the world at large such as donating old clothes to charity or people who suffered due to a natural calamity.
You can make compassionate activities family affairs in which all of you participate, for example, helping a blind man to cross the road or fostering an abandoned pet. You can then talk about the experiences over dinner to share stories and to share the feelings that the experience evoked.
Compassion is such a wonderful attribute because it is the wellspring of so many other special qualities, for example, kindness, love, and generosity, that not only help your children become just a decent person, but will also serve them well in so many aspects of their lives.
Compassionate children are gentle, considerate, and sympathetic. They are responsive to others’ needs, helpful, and motivated to do well. Compassionate children are also generous and willing to give of themselves to others. Children who express compassion are loved, valued, and respected and, when they grow up, become extraordinary friends, co-workers, spouses, and parents. What makes compassion so wonderful for children is that its expression is a win-win for those involved. The giver feels the satisfaction of giving and the receiver expresses appreciation and will likely reciprocate in some way with that person and others. In the end I would like to ask each one of you: Our heart is like a garden It can grow love, compassion, fear, anger, resentment So, what seeds do you want to plant there?
Dr Harleen Kaur is the Founder Vice Principal at Solitaire International School, an upcoming day-boarding luxury school at Panchkula. She has done her Ph.D in Medical Biotechnology from Punjabi University, Patiala and did her research work at ICMR(Belgaum) and AFMC(Pune). She and her team at ICMR were first to submit a gene sequence of PVL gene from Staphylococcus aureus in NCBI gene Bank, Geneva from India. She has also various published papers in national and international journals. She has 13 years of experience in teaching Biology and Biotechnology at senior secondary level. She has been appointed External Examiner and Paper Setter Evaluator for Biology and Biotechnology for XII standard by C.B.S.E board. She also has the credit of setting Biotechnology labs at Guru Harkrishan Public School (Vasant Vihar, Delhi) and Army Public School (Pune). She has also been awarded appreciation letter by Army Welfare Education Society for her dedication towards the excellent class XII board results.