News - Compassionate Schools Project
The Compassionate Schools Project's K-12 educational curriculum facilitates integrated development of mind and body; Educating the whole child.
The Compassionate Schools Project Educating the whole child.
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News

Tish Jennings visited the Dalai Lama at his home in India for the Mind & Life Conference – Reimagining Human Flourishing. On the fifth day of the conference, Jennings presented her research to the Dalia Lama including the Compassionate Schools Project (CSP). He watched the CSP video and replied, “wonderful.”

Sunmary of the event from the Mind & Life website: Patricia Jennings spoke about observing stress among teachers. She looked into why classrooms were a source of stress and found that some teachers are emotionally exhausted. She also noticed that everyone in a classroom is confined there. The remedy in this case is CARE—Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education—a program designed to help teachers reduce stress and enliven their teaching by promoting awareness, presence, compassion, reflection, and inspiration.

She noted that most teachers start their work with a strong sense of compassion. In CARE they are taught to monitor their attention, to notice when stress starts to rise and to take steps such as watching their breath to calm down and respond more effectively. Observed results include teachers’ improved emotional regulation, improved classroom atmosphere and improved student outcomes. Jennings made the important point that in this approach teachers not only teach skills, they embody them. They are encouraged to tell their class, “I’m feeling stressed and I’m going take steps to calm down’, so they also provide a model for students to follow. Read more here.

Louisville’s WHAS11 News spoke to CSP students, teachers, administrators, and parents about the project in a video highlighting the difference the curriculum is making in students’ lives.

“They are learning amazing things. They’re learning compassion for others and themselves. I see little miracles happening in the compassion classroom every day,” Luhr Elementary Compassionate Schools Project teacher Candace McMahon said.

“It looks different for each of the kids,” said McMahon, “but they are being empowered in ways that they didn’t know was possible for them. I feel like it has to start inside with the kids knowing that they’re worth something and that they do have some power and control over their choices. They may not have control over their environment, but they are learning that self-love and compassion for others make them feel better inside. It also helps them to become better learners and listeners and better citizens.”

“They have little control over a lot of things in their lives, but they are given opportunities to figure out who they are, identify emotions, identify triggers, and they’re learning what to do with those. It matters. I think it’s the most important piece for our kids right now to be their best selves and to grow into the person that they’re supposed to be and to be excellent members of our society. I definitely believe it could be a worldwide epidemic,” said McMahon.

Watch the video: “Compassion Curriculum Comes to Life in JCPS

WDRB News visited the “Compassion and Pastries” event in Louisville elementary school, that focused on becoming more in tune with children and how they learn.

“The students that are participating in the [Compassionate Schools] project are followed over a period of four years so that we can study the impacts of the curriculum on those student’s development,” Bloom Elementary PTA President Mollie Noe said. “We are waiting to see what the research says for the children, but overall the majority of the kids seem to love the program and are practicing mindfulness in their daily life.”

See the report: “Compassion and Pastries’ Event Held at Louisville Elementary School as part of JCPS Project

Denmark’s status as a leader in teaching social skills is one reason it’s often ranked as the world’s ‘happiest’ country. Do Danes know something the rest of us don’t?

Or do we know it too? The Christian Science Monitor cited the Compassionate Schools Project for its focus on emotional intelligence. “Empathy is very important for democracy,” says Mette Løvbjerg, Møllevang’s headmaster. “You can’t have a democracy that is functioning if nobody puts themselves in another one’s shoes…. If we don’t teach our children that, then we don’t have a democracy in 50 years..”

Read the full story: “Reading, Writing and Empathy: How Denmark is a Leader in Teaching Social Skills

 

“If we don’t find ways to help them overcome these reactions from trauma that they bring to school with them, it’s going to be hard to teach them the academic content,” said Tish Jennings in The Hechinger Report which highlighted the Compassionate Schools Project.

“The Compassionate Schools Project is really helping prepare their bodies and minds — the whole child — to be ready to learn what we want them to learn.”

Read the full story: “When Yoga Becomes a Respected Part of the School Day”

When yoga becomes a respected part of the school day

Mindful Magazine attended a Compassionate Schools Project (CSP) project leader meeting and visited a CSP classroom.

“Using the image of caring for trees, the speaker argued that the education field tends to focus too much on the tree’s fruit (outcomes like test scores) while ignoring the roots. If you ignore the roots for too long, he continued, you don’t get any fruit at all. The takeaway: mindfulness and compassion feed the roots.

I heard this analogy when I was lucky enough to witness the mid-term review of Louisville’s “audacious” 7-year Compassionate Schools Project (CSP) serving over 10,000 K-5 students at 45 schools. The Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia and the Contemplative Sciences Center have teamed up with the Louisville public schools on a randomized control study of a compassion, mindfulness and movement curriculum. In addition to being the largest and most innovative study of its kind, the curriculum will be free when it’s completed for any school that wants to use it.”

Read the full article: “Mindfulness Feeds the Roots

Louisville Magazine featured the Compassionate Schools Project (CSP) in its November 2017 issue.

Does teaching mindfulness lead to kinder, more focused kids? Nearly 20,000 Jefferson County Public School students will help determine that.

You can’t be calm and threatened at the same time… When kids feel angry or fearful, stress hormones ravage the body. The brain ignites — fight or flight? Breathing slowly and intentionally distracts you, shifting your attention from fear. The nervous system messages the body: It’s OK.

Read the full story: “Compassionate Curriculum.”

 

 

 

 

The Compassionate Schools Project held a celebration and meet-up in Louisville on Thursday, November 16th for everyone involved in the project, hosted by project chair Owsley Brown III. More than 200 Jefferson County Public School teachers, principals, administrators, as well as project funders and staff came together at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage to tell stories, make plans, share lessons, and toast the Compassionate Schools Project at the height of its activity.

Mindful Magazine highlighted leaders in the field of mindfulness research and named her one of the top 10 in the story, “Meditators Under the Microscope” 

From the article:

Jennings is known for innovative research on mindfulness in education. She recently published a randomized controlled trial showing that a mindfulness-based professional development program for teachers, CARE for Teachers, reduces teacher stress and improves classroom interactions.

FUTURE DIRECTIONS

She’s conducting a randomized controlled trial of the Compassionate Schools Project. It aims to promote focus, resilience, empathy, and well-being by teaching mindfulness, contemplative movement, and social/emotional skills to students at 50 Louisville elementary schools.

Read the full article: “Meditators Under the Microscope.

Jennings also received the Catherine Kerr Award for Courageous and Compassionate Science – The award is given biennially to a researcher from any academic discipline who 1) has made significant contributions to the contemplative sciences, and 2) exemplifies the qualities and character that Cathy brought to her work, including bold innovation, imagination, courage, authenticity and heartfulness. Read more.