Introduction (excerpt from book by Lori Desautels, Ph.D.)
All children are born with an excitement to explore, create, and interact. We are relational beings. Research reports that establishing and maintaining healthy relationships drives our intrinsic motivation to feel happier, increasing positive emotion especially during perceived stressful events. Most children enter pre-school and kindergarten with enthusiasm or more importantly a curiosity to play and imagine, while defining who they are through connecting with other children, teachers and adults.
It feels to be a time when political and educational reformers around the country and within individual states are continually developing, reinventing and rewrapping core content standards for teaching the subject areas of language arts, math, science and social studies. Although forward movement takes action, I believe at some point we must stop doing and rethink the philosophical foundation upon which these educational standards, benchmarks and core assessments were founded upon. We are entrenched inside a bureaucracy that contributes to a multi-billion dollar industry creating more standardized assessments measuring singular test scores within these subject areas calling for one solution and one right answer, and yet are we addressing the cornerstone needs of our students? Below are some questions that we must consider before we move ahead. What are those needs? Are students happy in school? Do they feel stimulated by the instruction and content? Are they curious? Do they feel purpose and relevancy when standards and subjects are presented? Do they feel successful? How important is it for students to feel successful knowing they spend 12,000 hours plus inside classrooms and schools through 12 or 13 years of academic preparation? Does acquiring higher test scores in math and science equate to personal fulfillment? Were the inventors of Under Armor, Google, and Disney World successful because of their high math and science scores? “How,” is one of the most important components. Teaching a child how to problem solve, how to critically think, and how to get along with others, while seeing diversity as a gift rather than an obstacle to permeate is part of this global conversation. Do we stress in schools our commonalities as humans or are we subconsciously or consciously focused on our differences? When 18 year olds enter college, the work force, or trade schools, how many of them are asking, “How do I find meaning in my life?” “What is my purpose?” “What do I do now?” It has been my experience as a teacher, mother, instructor in higher education and school counselor that the majority of our young adults are asking these life forming questions and we need to listen! We begin listening with a five world question that initiates the “conversation.” How may I serve you?
If world peace is truly a global desire and all individuals begin life inside the arena of a learning and teaching culture, as educators, we must become responsible for mentoring our future world citizens. We must assist our students in developing a process for: arriving at thoughts, driven by feelings that create a channel for personal happiness. Developing an appreciation and acceptance of our human differences, purpose driven experiences in and out of schools, coupled with a flow of ideas that never dry up! How do we begin to delve inside these notions recreating an educational system that emphasizes compassion? We begin with each student, parent and educator. If we are to affect change, then turn around schools and effective leadership begins with a compassionate driven perspective. This concept is neither trite nor fluffy. It is educational rigor at its finest and best practice for all.
At an early age, children do not recognize color, race, status, diversity or ethnicity in a negative or competitive light. They accept what is before them with a hearty appetite to learn, to discover. We know through the early processes of familial and societal conditioning, a child’s values, beliefs and culture, are formed. These formed belief systems sometimes create the divisions and stereotyping of people in later years, clearly erasing much of the naïve and loving nature of that which is innate in all children in this world. Research also presents us with a novel view and understanding of human development that exceeds our genetic composition. We now understand that genetic inheritance is less than 50%; approximately 30% of our holistic health landscape and that environment and the enrichment of that environment or lack thereof affect the major emotional, cognitive and social functioning systems of each individual.
Here is where the critical conversation begins. Are we able to create a balance of assessment driven mastery examining student performance and growth, as we begin with a conversation about a curriculum embedded in compassion-compassion for one another, our work, education and the process of thought! To be compassionate is to be creative, innovative, accepting and appreciative for the variety of individuals, cultures; circumstances and experiences this life generates and presents. We can’t afford “not” to have this conversation! It is a way of being with one another, rather than continuing on this fast track of “doing.” Please join me in this process of creative envisioning as we begin to develop a curriculum, a national core standard that is the cornerstone for compassionate, creative and purpose driven individuals. These will be the individuals, implementing their innate genius, who know how to reach “within” discovering the keys for successful and happier students, parents and educators.
Is it not time to place angry and agitated nationalism, world wars, exorbitant military spending, and an intense intolerance of one another into a locked box? This worn out container will gently hold the old stories of pedagogy, no longer applicable in this world of global communication and collaboration. It is time we create space for creative service to one another, embracing a conversation that holds compassion in highest esteem and a national standard that will enhance the acquisition of educational content and skills needed in this ever changing world. I am excited for the day when my children and grandchildren will be video conferencing with students from Japan, India and China who together will create a communication and performance based assessment that will align our countries with a deepened respect for the rich diversity each holds, rather than worrying and placing competitive edges inside the hearts and souls of those who were born to relate, to inquire and wonder! We now begin…