Educating the Heart

 5 Good Reasons and a Few Words of Wisdom

Recently, Children in Crossfire has been working on evolving its Development Education practice to nurture the emotional well-being of young people alongside building their capacity for critical thinking and active citizenship.  We believe that for long term engagement in issues of global injustice, young people need to be prepared holistically with both the emotional and intellectual skills to know how to properly care for themselves and others in this one interconnected world.   For Children in Crossfire, this is what it means to educate someone fully as an active compassionate global citizen. This is what it means to ‘Educate the Heart’.

As part of our endeavour to ‘Educate the Heart’, we asked various Development Educators the following:

  • Is it the business of Development Education to address well-being and equip (young) people with the capacity to understand and manage the human emotions involved in LIVING and PARTICPATING in the world?
  • Is it the business of Development Education to nurture emotional literacy, self-compassion and empathy with as much enthusiasm as it has for nurturing critical literacy, global awareness and active citizenship?
  • Isn’t it vital that Development Educators do not fail to attend to the core emotions of what makes us human, and nurture emotional well-being as the very foundation of building an active global citizen who will participate in the world as a compassionate change-maker?

Here are some responses, reflecting 5 Good Reasons to Educate the Heart.

  1. Young people have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders, and it takes a lot of energy and head-space to try to fix all the problems with our world. Educating the Heart is a good idea
  2. Young people are being failed miserably by Development Educators and the wider education sector. We do not focus enough on children’s well-being and emotional skills, but yet we expect them to grasp onto positive values to act for peace and global justice without adequately skilling them at a personal development level
  3. Our schooling system is not an education of the heart, and as such is a deficient vehicle for providing sufficient education whether for living or citizenship. But it is what we have – and creative approaches like Children in Crossfire’s ‘Educating the Heart’ can be a catalyst for educational change
  4. Teachers would love to know how to practically nurture emotional well-being in young people. Most teachers would love to have the tools to link well-being to global citizenship.  If ‘Educating the Heart’ can achieve this, then it will be welcomed as a curriculum breakthrough
  5. It makes total sense to ‘Educate the Heart’. When you think about it, how can we expect young people to take actions for transforming global injustices if we do not adequately prepare them to nurture and care for themselves, build healthy relationships and develop an ability to empathise with others from the heart? It is fundamental to participating in life as a citizen of the world.

Children in Crossfire has already shaped and explored a Development Education model of ‘Educating the Heart for Compassionate Global Citizenship’.  We piloted the programme with a wonderful group of students from Oakgrove Integrated College in Derry.  This blog would not be complete without adding a few of their inspiring words of wisdom.

“Everyone is your family, and family don’t kill each other.  So don’t kill each other.  War is not the answer.  Peace is the answer”

“We should all just help homeless children.  Give them food and water and give them a home”

“The world should be handled with care”

“Talk to a homeless person and take them into your house for Christmas.  Thank you for listening”

“We are losing people who mean a lot to us through war. Stop making wars and make peace instead”

“We should stop buying too much and wasting as people in other parts of the world do not have enough food and we waste so much”

“Why did the world learn to get bombs? I want the world to have no guns, no bombs and peace, and people to be really friendly”