Let go of control. Teach with compassion!

Currently I’m working with a number of teachers to help them create online courses.  A recurring theme of concern is the fear of losing control. Why?

Teachers are heavily influenced to adapt a controlling style base on numerous influences. These include; “social roles; burdens of responsibility and accountability; cultural values and expectations; a misconception that controlling means structured, temporarily unmotivated, or unengaged students; personal beliefs about motivation; and their own personal dispositions, (Reeve, 2009)”. Whew, no wonder so many teachers are control freaks!

However, at the same time the education community generally accepts the best model for learning is an environment that supports self-initiation, challenge seeking, and self-endorsement learning (Bruner, 1962; Clifford, 1990). So how do we overcome this paradox? By embracing compassion.

The Dalai Lama, recently spoke at Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, on  how to become a “happy person” and build a “happy community” where people spread love and compassion.” He stated, “basic human nature is gentleness. We are equipped with the seed of compassion” at birth, he said. But the challenge through adulthood is to overcome the materialism and self-centered attitudes of the world. Through education, we must include the teaching of compassion and warm-heartedness. When you give more happiness to others, you get maximum happiness. That is what we can teach people”.

James Doty, the founder and director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, noted, research within the last year has found mind-training focused on being in the present moment, and acting with a sense of compassion for one’s self and others, has a demonstrable effect on one’s sense of well-being. “It is through compassion that we connect with others and it is through compassion that we will have our greatest impact,” Doty said.

The Dalai Lama has often said: “If you wish to be happy, demonstrate compassion. If you want others to be happy, demonstrate compassion.” Let go of control. Teach with compassion!

Stanford research: Compassion aids well-being

Bruner, J. S. (1962). On knowing: Essays for the left hand. Cambridge,MA:
Harvard University Press.

Clifford, M. M. (1990). Students need challenge, not easy success. Educational
Leadership, 48, 22–26.

Reeve, John Marshall (2009)’Why Teachers Adopt a Controlling Motivating Style Toward Students and How They Can Become More Autonomy Supportive’,Educational Psychologist,44:3,159 — 175. URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00461520903028990

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