The Charter for Compassionate Schools is a call to action, both intellectual and social, and an invitation to open a conversation about its meaning and intent. By affirming the Charter the signers acknowledge the importance of acting compassionately in their communities and the world outside of their schools. To this end some may want to questions the meaning and purpose of the Charter. For example, what is meant by “common humanity”? Does this phase encompass the environment and animals? The Charter is about social transformation and deserves an intensive exploration, and invites others to include words and phrases that help clarify and solidify the broad meaning of its words and call to action.
Acting on the Charter
Now that your school has signed the charter, what next?
Choosing to act with compassion does not require additional programming or squeezing extra minutes out of an already tight school-day; the ways to create a compassionate school are without end. For those looking to go further or who are seeking outside guidance, we have included the following list of organizations and curricular approaches. Educators who share this goal often weave together multiple programs within their school environment under the vision enshrined in the Charter. A more detailed description can be found at the here at the Charter for Compassion website and within the pages of our Education section.
In-school Extracurricular Activities
Many schools find that they are already doing many compassionate projects without labeling them. Activities that teach and encourage social responsibility and helping students to extend their “muscle” to help others are good examples of working on behalf of the community. Cleaning up the school yard or local community park, making gift cards for children or seniors confined to long-term care or making a conscience effort to perform small acts of kindness are all examples of activities that “snowball” into cumulative acts of compassion. Here are some organizations that are either working together for others or promoting compassion through one act at a time. Their work can be directly adopted or be used to form the basis for a similar program within your own school environment.
The Edible School Yard Project
Magical Moments Around the World
Painting Love Project
Sleep Tight Kids
Voices Around the World
We Stop Hate
Curriculum Supplemental Materials and Approaches
Everyone knows that the curriculum is overextended and demands placed on teaching STEM-based courses take high priority in most schools. Nonetheless, selecting a book or poetry that emphasizes a compassion theme is just a possible way of bringing compassion into the curriculum. The references below offer many more viable approaches. There are some programs that offer curriculum choices to teaching a theme and are not necessarily add-ons to the curriculum with the exception of Roots of Empathy. There are also targeted programs that promote social change within the context of the school environment.
Caring and Courageous Kids
Move This World
One Life Alliance
Roots of Empathy
San Antonio Peace Center
Voices Education Project
World Peace Game
Teacher Training Opportunities
The organizations below all offer teacher-training opportunities, some on site and others on-line, and others that lead to special certification. Each specializes in introducing compassion and related skills into the teaching environment.
Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE)
Compassionate Listening Project
Greater Good Science Center
Mind with Heart
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation
RULER Approach: Building Emotionally Literate Schools