The curriculum being presented to you is designed to help you engage your elementary school students in the concept of compassion. As such, we’ve tried to make the program as simple as possible, both for you to use and for your students to understand.
From a contextual standpoint, we are using the metaphor of a power plant to deliver the five lessons. You can decide how much you want to extend this metaphor, but opportunities to engage in science and social studies are available if you choose to use your teacher ingenuity. For our purposes here, how we are using the metaphor is to get students thinking about what gives them energy. The early lessons are designed to help them recognize external sources of energy, most likely adults they trust. Like how a power plant provides us electricity that powers our homes, schools and businesses, these adults help power your students. Students will be encouraged to be conduits of positive human energy, passing it on to someone they’ve identified who can benefit from it. By the end of the five lessons, we are hoping students have recognized how to become their own renewable power sources and are regularly passing positive energy on to others.
Of course, the curriculum focuses on compassion so it’s important students understand what that means. For our purposes, we see an act of compassion as being something that lessens the suffering of someone or something else. So to be truly compassionate, you need to recognize when someone or something else is suffering. To be able to best do this, you need to help your students do this genuinely. We can’t create a curriculum that is guaranteed to show this as the best experiences are the ones your students have or have had. So, we trust that you will be able to point out true (and appropriate) kinds of suffering to your students. We suggest you begin by talking to them about when they’ve been hurt. Even a skinned knee story is useful for this purpose. How did it happen? How did you feel? Who helped? What did they do? How did that feel? Have you ever helped someone else who has a skinned knee? How did that feel? Once you open your students to telling stories of this sort, they typically come cascading out.
Another word we are using in this curriculum is ambassador, as in telling your students that they are “ambassadors of compassion.” This helps them see what they are doing is important, while introducing useful vocabulary that you can extend outside of these lessons. We define an ambassador as someone who promotes an activity or an idea. As you use this curriculum and see the students completing their compassion actions, we encourage you to say, “There’s an ambassador of compassion in action” or something similar. When you see your students promoting other activities you’d like reinforced, something like cleaning the classroom, you could say, “I see the ambassadors of organization and cleanliness are sure working hard.”
Thanks for helping promote compassion!