This summer, EVERFI will be launching The Compassion Project, a free 45-minute course which teaches compassion to seven to 11-year-olds.
The course has been a runaway success in the US and has already reached 17,000 schools there – about 20% of all primary schools. It is the brainchild of Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn’s Chairman, and EVERFI.
The idea behind it is to build kindness and empathy in pupils and, as a result, enhance their wellbeing and their core social-emotional skills. The course teaches children to practise compassion in real-life scenarios, a skill needed now more than ever.
Jeff Weiner recently explained why teaching compassion in primary schools is so important.
“When you teach compassion, when you have success with social-emotional learning within the classroom, the benefits are myriad in terms of not only keeping students out of trouble but also improving their sense of self, their sense of self-esteem, the way they relate to others,” he says.
“And that, of course, begins to manifest itself in the results that they’re able to generate as well.”
In a webinar with UBS, he revealed that the only book he keeps on his bedside shelf is The Art of Happiness, by the Dalai Lama and psychiatrist Howard Cutler.
He credits the book with teaching him the difference between compassion and empathy.
“If you were walking along a mountainous trail and you were to come across someone who was being crushed with a boulder on their chest, the empathetic response would be to feel the same sense of suffocation, which would render you helpless, just like that individual,” he says.
“The compassionate response is to recognise that they can’t breathe, that they’re suffering. Perhaps draw upon your own experiences – maybe a moment of empathy where you’re feeling that same sense of suffocation, but maintain enough space between you and the other person so that you can do something about it. And then do everything within your power to remove the boulder from their chest.”
If you or your organisation are interested in supporting the teaching of compassion in primary schools across the UK, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us here and we’ll be in touch.