Creating communities of compassion

One teacher is taking Jewels of Kindness & Respect forward with plans to introduce a compassionate training programme for students

Amy Cooper, Head of House, GEMS Wellington Academy, Silicon Oasis

“Compassionate integrity is one of the most important skills we need to instill in our students. Therefore, we need to nurture and grow this value. GEMS Wellington Academy, Silicon Oasis (WSO) initiated this programme in 2017 with an enrichment cycle for Year 8 based on the teachings of compassionate integrity. This enrichment helped show students how to define compassion and act on it. With these structures in place, students learned the competences of innovation and creativity as they developed their own compassionate project. After this success, we pondered whether there could be a continuum of growth for the Jewels of Kindness & Respect (JoKR). Alternatively, criteria expected as you move further up the school. These values are not something we achieve once and therefore stop striving. The fostering of these skills should be something we help build upon, whilst giving guidance. Then we can say we have truly developed students who are ‘World Ready’.

How does this tie-in with JoKR?
JoKR gives students the chance to recognise attributes we need in the real world by participating in acts to demonstrate a particular Jewel: empathy, helpfulness, compassion, respect. We aim to go further and use each Jewel as a foundation to build complexity and depth.

How will students benefit?
Exposure to caring practices helps to foster a better learning environment at a local level. By nurturing compassion, we hope students will develop the understanding to eradicate the growing number of sustainable development goals worldwide.

Is this your passion?
As a geography teacher, my passion is social geography. I have taught the same social and environmental problems for years. It was not until recently that I wondered: ‘why are the solutions not working’. I realised the solution was more than a lack of knowledge and finance, it’s a lack of compassionate integrity. We must allow our students to develop cognitive empathy.

How do we move JoKR forward?
By providing compassionate training, a meaningful training programme that allows for knowledge and skills development. If students have obtained their JoKR badge, they are ready to move forward with training.

If your school is interested in participating, please contact a.cooper_wso@gemsedu.com

What is the qualification?

Training is three tiered: Each level is upskilled to stretch students’ understanding of compassion. We hope to have many students trained to level 2 by the end of 2020. By 2021, we hope to plan a residential trip to initiate level 3. We hope other GEMS schools will also join the programme.

Level 1: Compassionate Recognition Award [Year 4+]: this award unravels the definitions of pity, sympathy, empathy and compassion. Students will gain an insight into real-life situations where compassion has or has not correctly been applied, and evaluate the different impacts this has on events and countries. [6 hours]

Level 2: Wizard Award: this award requires students to build upon level 1 and develop their own compassion projects. [6 hours]

Level 3: Active Compassion: this award is a project of service allowing students to put all definitions into action. The definition of empathy reads as ‘the ability to understand and share the feelings of another’. Compassion is defined as: ‘motivating people to go out of their way to help the physical, mental or emotional pains of another’. [Oxford Dictionary] The project could be an overseas trip or a local excursion where real-life scenarios allow students to apply their training to show a meaningful attempt at compassionate mitigation.