Value Mind Map – Compassion – May 4th – 10th

“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”
― Neil deGrasse Tyson

Compassion.  The art of reducing suffering.  I think the hardest part about compassion is realizing the long-term effects.  Lying can relieve you immediately, yet cause you greater suffering later on.  It is difficult to swallow the fact that sometimes compassion is causing pain now in order to reduce future pain.  To be compassionate, we must be brave.  Brave enough to have the difficult conversations.  Brave enough to risk looking like a fool.  Brave enough to say no to oneself.  Compassion is one of the most difficult arts to master…

Below is my mind map of compassion this week.

Compassion Mind Map


When I first think of compassion, I think of curing the sick or feeding the hungry.  Luckily, I do not encounter those pains frequently in my life.  This forced me to think of other types of suffering.  I helped Abbie leave her comfort zone by being her accountability partner.  I helped myself stop thinking about the negatives of my 8th grade project by setting up positive questions to guide my reflection of the experience.  Roz was taken to the vet and checked over.  Sadly, she has lost some teeth and I am attempting to set up a brushing regimen to, hopefully, save the rest of her teeth.  I also apologized to a student after pushing him back into my classroom, which helped reduce my suffering at least.  Hopefully his suffering too.

Once we slow down and think about life, almost everything we do is to avoid some type of suffering.  We should be grateful whenever our suffering is solely boredom.  Being sick or starving are much worse alternatives!

Something that just popped into my head is an easy way to live a compassionate life.  Continuously ask the following question: How can I help my community?  You can change community to myself, my friends, my family, or my coworkers.  But, if you are helping, then you are acting compassionately.

Next week, we will be focusing on community.  What will you do to help our community?

From Stagnant to Growth – Set Some Goals

We must grow!  Feeling our bodies becoming healthier.  Feeling our minds expanding.  Feeling like we are beating away our fears.  These feelings are what I consider growth.

What happens when we do not get this feeling?  Well, I can tell you how I feel.  Stagnant.  Lost.  Severe confusion.  Then, I fail to act because I have limited fuel to power me.  Surprisingly, the feeling of being lost is extremely draining.

How can we overcome this feeling?  We must set a new goal we know we can achieve.  If you are severely drained, then the goal might have to be extremely easy.  For example, going for a walk is a good goal.  The walk allows the environment to change and with new stimuli come new thoughts and feelings.  Or, writing down the fact you are lost and that you will begin brainstorming ways to get going again is an easy step.  Make your goal to choose a goal.  A last option might be to make your goal reviewing your goals.  Seek the motivation.

The one aspect of goal achieving I largely fail to do is to measure my progress.  If you do not measure, then you will not know if you are growing.  I am trying to think of ways to measure my goals for students.  I am failing in this aspect.

But, now I know my next step!

See the Good, Feel Important

Teaching is a lonely profession.  This is an odd phrase because teachers are with students all day.  But, people can feel lonely even in a crowd.  The feeling of loneliness comes from feeling a lack of importance in life.  How can teachers be lacking a feeling of importance?  We shape the minds of the young and this is a very important undertaking.  However, the day-to-day battles are intense.  The students can be vicious.

Constant negative feedback is tough to swallow.  I had students not trying after discussing biking, which I thought would be applicable to their lives.  I had a student tell me she doesn’t do work in my class because it is boring.  Today we were building an environment out of Legos and other pieces to understand watersheds and pollution.  I had a student write “Mr. Hingstrum is a bitch” on the desk after I took her book away because she wasn’t doing her assignment.  These constant negative actions cause me to feel unimportant, and thus, lonely.

Changing our mindset in order to see the good we did is hard in these situations.  I had excellent visuals for gears for the students to see.  I tried to make the problem applicable to their life.  I gathered the resources for the students to be able to build the environment.  I did have some students interested and trying.  I was important to some!

We all must note when we feel stress or anger begin to rise. More importantly, we must use it as a trigger to begin looking for the good around us.  This will help steer us toward a positive mood, which in turn will help the environment around us.

What are some good things you did today?

Learning Toward Happiness

How do we learn things?  What causes us to remember events?  Why are these questions not mandated in the public school’s curriculum?

There are two primary types of events we remember: 1. A cause of happiness and 2. A cause of severe suffering.  Our brains have evolved in order to repeat happiness.  To see this, be mindful of your habits.  Why are you doing what you are doing?  Why are you drinking one more beer?  Why are you eating ice cream?  Why are you listening to music on your way home from work?  I may be wrong, but the answer to all of these is for enjoyment.  We’ve learned to act in a certain way in order to feel happiness.  And according to The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business  by Charles Duhigg, the easiest way to change a habit, in other words learn, is to maintain the same reward but change the act.

I understand if you think this is difficult.  I love ice cream and it makes me happy.  In order to maintain that happiness, I decided to switch to portion-controlled yogurt AND add the thought of the benefit to my health.  These two things results in a happiness feeling.  Though it is a struggle from time to time.

On the other hand, we have memories full of moments of intense suffering.  For me, I remember watching my mom convulse before she died.  The feeling of guilt washed over me as I realized I hid from her the months prior.  And I remember the time I smashed a milk carton and received 5 minutes on the wall during recess.  Plus, the breakups of my life.  Oh, the tragedies!

We remember tragedies in order to avoid the suffering which follows.  Again, we want happiness.  And remembering the causes of great pain helps steer us on a, hopefully, happier path if we are ever to come across a similar situation.

Powerful emotions are connected to our learning.  Yes, repetition can help us learn skills, but if they do not have a strong emotional attachment, then those skills will soon be, at least partly, forgotten.  We learn toward happiness and away from suffering.

What have you learned today?

The Purpose of Education

Educators must supply new experiences of suffering for their students.  The purpose of education is to learn how to overcome new obstacles.  Amazingly simple.  This may be why teaching has been so difficult for me.  I never want to harm anyone.  I want to help.  But, I’ve come to realize teaching includes both aspects.  More specifically, teaching in public schools does.  I must plan to deliver the new problem for the students to practice solving and help the students solve it.

I had this same thought before.  In my past, I called the problems “puzzles.”  This felt more positive.  But, I think if students understood that the purpose of school was to help them understand how to reduce suffering, then more students would want to be there.  Who doesn’t want to know how to reduce their suffering?

In case you are wondering, I believe science is the best way to reduce suffering.  Make your life into an experiment.  You’ll learn so much!