In launching the School’s new teaching and learning framework, Learning@STLUKE’S, we ensured that it was based on sound research about effective learning, which was achieved by looking at the work of a number of researchers. The model is built around the four R’s: Resilience, Resourcefulness, Reciprocity and Reflection as the dispositions for effective learners. To ground the model within the Christian foundation and mission of the School, the fifth R: Restoration, was added.
The capabilities for Restoration are Grace, Humility, Justice and Compassion. These specific Christian attributes surprisingly echo the work of Howard Gardner in The Five Minds of the Future where he writes about the Fifth Mind as the Ethical Mind. He argues that knowing how to act rightly and to deal justly is equally as important as the mastery of subject content.
Grace, one of the capabilities of Restoration, is difficult to understand, and the challenge is to help students to understand what Grace means for them and what habits they will cultivate which will reflect Grace. Grace incorporates gratitude, mercifulness, forgiveness, generosity in actions and respectfulness. It is being other people focused and being prepared to put aside your rights for the sake of others. This is particularly challenging for all of us, but especially for young people who are developmentally self focused.
Compassion is another capability of Restoration. It goes much deeper than feeling sorry for someone as there is a desire to make the situation better. We see this in our students when they are moved to support others either through fundraising to alleviate suffering or giving of their time to assist others.
A challenge of Compassion is that the higher up the social scale one is, the less likely one is to feel compassion and the more likely one is to do nothing to alleviate the suffering of others. Daniel Goleman, in Social Intelligence: the New Science of Human Relationships writes: Self-absorption in all its forms, kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection - or compassionate action.”
My prayer for the students is that they might grow to be men and women whose lives are marked by Grace and Compassion.