Towards Compassionate Teaching: Article Analysis

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Compassion? In Teaching?
Towards Compassionate Teaching, an article by Anna B. Pennell, describes her opinions on what should be the prevalent psyche among frontline teachers. Specifics are outlined, not all of which I agree. I will attempt to rebut some of Pennell’s assertions regarding the playground incident she describes and other examples stated.

Compassion is a natural part of life for most of us average humans (excluding certain sociopathic individuals). But Pennell’s playground narrative points to inadequacies in her fellow teachers that in other ways of seeing could shine a light of inadequacy upon herself. Let me specify my issue with Pennell’s assertion. She tells of how the “others” were neglecting their duties and being irresponsible by not watching their charges. In my opinion, Pennell’s own behavior was somewhat disturbing. She rushed into a fight between two fifth grade students we can assume she did not know (she taught second grade). I looked for the quote that says something about fools rushing in where wise men fear to tread but couldn’t find it. One of the fight participants was at least as big as she and in her description “strong”. Many scenarios could have unfolded that could have placed the author in serious trouble. A left hook could have knocked her out, leaving her students unattended. The struggle to restrain the larger boy could have resulted in the smaller boy pulling a knife and injuring him. At this I end the shoulda and coulda. But I make the point thus, Pennell points to the errors of others without any awareness of her own mistakes. The sheer superiority in her own account, in my opinion, points to the fact that she is not strong in the act of self reflection.

Pennell launches into a discourse about compassion, suffering and meaning. But does all of this caring constitute what a teacher is hired to do? Caring is innate to most of us but the entire compassion argument goes too far. As a male in middle...
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