Throughout Term 4 we are continuing our exploration of each of our values as a K-6 community, with a focus this term on compassion. Our first goal has been to make compassion tangible and demonstrable for the students. The etymology of “compassion” is Latin, meaning “co-suffering”. Compassion involves “feeling for another” and comes before empathy, “feeling as another”. Put simply, it is a desire to act to alleviate suffering. It involves allowing ourselves to be moved by suffering and experiencing the motivation to help to alleviate and prevent it and to act to make a difference.
Compassion is at the core of our ethos and way of being at St Michael’s. The Community of the Sisters of the Church were driven by compassion; it underpinned their work as they gave of their selves to create a school for the betterment of the children. Compassion continues to be a driving force for our community today, and so it is imperative that our students understand what it means and how they can demonstrate it. Drawing on our understanding of strengths enables us to make the abstract concrete. The strengths of forgiveness, kindness, courage, bravery, fairness, leadership and perspective all contribute to creating a compassionate culture.
Compassion is demonstrated when we go out of our way to help another or to help ourselves. To be compassionate, we must be caring, kind, forgiving and courageous too. We have begun by focusing on kindness and inviting the students to notice acts of kindness both that they make and receive. We also need to be able to see events/issues from alternate viewpoints. To be compassionate means that we recognise that we all have perspectives and that our perspective may not be the same but that everyone can be right.
Compassion can be outward focused or inward facing. Taking action based on our own feelings and circumstances can be difficult, and it is sometimes easier to overlook the need to show compassion to ourselves. As adults, we often model an outward focus on compassion and so it is important to think about how we model compassion for ourselves.
Nurturing compassion enables us to create a culture where we are ‘up-standers’, speaking up for ourselves and for others who can’t speak for themselves. We need up-standers in our school, in our community and in our world. It is the up-standers who are making a difference in our world and who will continue to do so.
Mrs Nicole Ginnane
Associate Head (K-6)