Educating the Heart initiative | Children In Crossfire

Children in Crossfire was delighted to host a working conference to help shape our exciting Development Education: Educating the Heart initiative. Our Think Tank took place on Thursday 22nd and Friday 23rd June 2017.

We have been evolving our Development Education model with the aim of merging emotional and critical literacy through an innovative Educating the Heart pedagogy.  Educating the Heart is rooted in an ethics of Compassion with the aim of cultivating critical awareness together with emotional strength so that young people are fully prepared to participate in the world as change-makers. The word “Compassion” has been chosen to encapsulate the “affective” skills and values more generally referred to as “respect” “care for” “empathy”, “tolerance” etc. We believe that young people need emotional as well as intellectual skills development so as to equip them for long-term engagement as local and global citizens. We consider that an ethic of Compassion at the heart of Development Education can enable young people to learn to properly care for themselves and others in today’s interconnected world.

Following a series of consultations and pilot interventions involving 200 educators and 50 young people, Children in Crossfire has now secured the required funding which allows us to begin to roll-out an accredited Educating the Heart CPD and ITE model to over 700 teachers, impacting up to 120,000 students (Primary and Post-Primary throughout ROI and NI).

In preparation for this exciting development, we held a ‘Think Tank’ with leading specialists.  The intent was to further refine the model as a pedagogical approach. Particularly, we wanted to strengthen its links to the formal education curriculum, policy and practice, in relation to preparing young people to participate in the world as local and global citizens.

The specific goals of the Think Tank were as follows:

  • To explore in depth the links between critical and emotional literacy, and how these links can be merged through ethics rooted in compassion
  • To investigate ways in which the initiative can be applied within a pedagogy for preparing young people as compassionate local and global citizens
  • To deepen the links between Educating the Heart and the Primary and Post-Primary Curriculum (specifically ROI, NI and UK)
  • To embody Educating the Heart within teacher CPD (as an accredited teacher qualification) and a whole school approach
  • To explore possibilities for designing research instruments and conducting collaborative research studies
  • To explore possibilities for publications that will document our work together


The outcome of our Think Tank can be read here.

*The Think Tank has been generously supported by the Mind and Life Institute.