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Can We Teach Compassion?

December 7, 2012

Reader Tess Pajaron of Australia’s Open Colleges shared this with me today:

I recently had a chance to be involved in the development of an infographic in light of International Volunteer Day [December 5]. You can find it here: Can We Teach Compassion?

The image created by Tess and her colleagues highlights statistics on volunteerism and college students. Student service is very important at Notre Dame and volunteering has been an important part of my life. While donating time to serve strangers is wonderful, learning compassion encompasses more than that. It’s a key aspect of discussions on bullying in K-12 schools. Faculty at medical schools work to instill a compassionate beside manner in future doctors, and business schools are increasingly involved in teaching ethics.

teach-compassionParker Palmer, author of The Courage to Teach, argues that a good teacher must be compassionate: “Relational trust is built on movements of the human heart such as empathy, commitment, compassion, patience, and the capacity to forgive.” But how do we teach compassion? The holiday season seems an appropriate time to ponder that question. “Be a role model” is the first suggestion offered in Teaching Compassion to Kids on the Psychology Today blog.

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