I am very lucky to be involved in another project that aims to make society a better place to live in: Loving Classroom.
Conflict in adults is difficult to manage. Mediators and negotiators put in time and training, but often this can seem like fighting fires. It takes a lot of energy to unlearn a mindset of ‘me-ness’ rather than ‘one-ness’, develop empathy and ensure open minded listening takes place between opposing parties.
Fire fighting is important – but to create long lasting change we must always look to education. Training young people, families and communities in skills that will help them become more harmonious and avoid conflict in the first place. This is the aim of Loving Classroom. To develop a society of love engineers.
I adore this title / job description. Not only does it create intrigue and humour, but it captures the seriousness of the task at hand. The verb, to engineer, means to design and build something or to arrange for something to occur. It is a thought out and somewhat scientific term. The purpose of Loving Classroom is to develop Love Engineers – people who can skilfully design and build caring relationships with others in society.
It seems strange at first glance to think of making friends and good working relationships as skillful. Usually, it is something that we do without much thought based on how we have been socialised by our upbringing. However, by really considering the skills of being emotionally intelligent we can practice and develop these further so that we can more effectively relate to people. This allows us to see ourselves not just as human being, but part of a wider humanity being.
Loving Classroom identifies eight virtues needed to be a love engineer: Respect, Compassion, Listening, Kindness, Gratitude, Love, Care and Friendship.
Each lesson of the programme allows young people to explore what these virtues mean, look like and uses activities to practice and develop them. When we practice any skill or trait it becomes easier to use in the future until hopefully it becomes our default position.
Example lessons may see young people reflecting on difficult relationships that they could treat with more compassion, writing letters of thanks to people who they may take for granted and planning a community project to practice care for others.
There is likely to be conflict and hate in the world for many years to come. It is not something easily removed from society because it comes from a place of pain. Violence will always breed more violence and only by understanding that ‘happy people don’t shout’ and practicing empathy will solutions be explored. Loving Classroom does not seek to intervene in conflict, but rather be a source of positivity and light that can help prevent and drive out the need for hate and conflict in a wide reaching ripple effect. By starting with our young people we will hopefully see the growth of a society of Love Engineers who respond first with compassion and understanding rather than retaliation.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
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