Have We Lost Our Compassion? Can Our School System Help?

I believe that as an educator I look at world affairs a little differently than the average or typical citizen. As an educator, I look at what is happening in the nation and in the world and tend to make judgement based on our educational system. I tend to ask questions: Have we raised a generation of good problem solvers? Do our citizens research and make decisions based on that data, or are they fooled by bias, lies and rhetoric? Can we spot compassion, sensitivity and understanding in the acts of most individuals?

Well as they say "hindsight has 20/20 vision". Looking back we can see the error in our ways, and that's OK. A strong educator should reflect and be able to make changes to improve his or her future teaching. We now see that high stakes, multiple choice testing has created adults that can only consider up to five possible answers and one of them must be the right choice. We have created adults that do not research their own information; they are given the information and assume it is fact and that the correct answer must lie in the given information. We can fix this, we must fix this. But the one error in our educational system that worries me the most is the lack of compassion, understanding and sensitivity to others.

Back in the early 1990s the idea of our students being too "soft" started to take hold. Teaching positive self-esteem was being attacked and the "everyone is a winner "philosophy was scorned. James Harrison made his children return their sports participation trophies. He stated, "I'm sorry I'm not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I'm not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best." That kind of tough thinking seems to have taken over.


Now that we get to look back and see how that generation is doing, what do we notice? We have a generation of people with very low self-esteem. We have a generation of people that have no compassion for their fellow man, because you are either the winner or the loser and there is no room for both. I always shutter when I hear parents say, "It's tough in the real world", or "You are setting them up to be soft in the real world." Honestly? Really? I know the parents that are reading this could be those same parents that were taught that "the real world" is mean and nasty and there is no room for "everyone is a winner" mentality. I feel sorry for those parents because you were never allowed to feel success even if you didn't earn it to the point that the kid next to you did. Maybe that win for you was just different than the win for the kid next to you. Maybe your win was just building up enough confidence to be able to participate and that was good enough for you. Does every child's win have to be a point score where there must be a winner and a loser? I feel strongly that our children have the rest of their life to have to deal with the real world. Can't they have a childhood?


I feel passionately that our schools need to once again focus on developing our children's positive self-esteem. Let's include character develop. We must teach about compassion. We must give our younger children a chance to feel successful even if it is just being able to participate. Success breeds success and failure breeds failure. I mean, honestly, won't our children spend enough time in the "real world"? Shouldn't they feel positive about what they do in school? Let's bring back a sense of compassion, understanding and sensitivity in our schools and later in our nation.