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No Parroting Allowed!

Learning Emergence by Asking Questions

Emergence Group Babies

"Knowing If Someone Has Been Compassionate"

Questions for the Week of October 2, 2006

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When asked, "how do you best learn?" most people usually respond with either a technique, like, "in a classroom," or by naming their favorite sense, like, "I learn best visually." Unfortunately, this implies most people define "learning" as the ability to parrot the correct answer.

What is wrong with this? We believe that "parroting the correct answer" creates parrots, not students; dullards, not Einsteins. So how can we create more Einsteins? By asking questions which are intended to provoke the student's own questions. More important, we see this as the best way with which to reawaken in students the love of learning.

This week's topic is, "Knowing If Someone Has Been Compassionate." Would you like to actually learn more about this topic? You can, simply by reading the teacher's questions and then, by asking yourself, "what questions did these words just provoke in me?"

"Knowing If Someone Has Been Compassionate"

Teacher's Questions (asked by Inetta)

Like you, Gary, I have not yet done my homework. So I decided to use this experience as my homework assignment. When I read what Ed wrote to you (as the group manager) for not doing your homework, I questioned whether Ed had been compassionate.

  • How do I teach the nature of compassion? What is the nature of compassion? Is compassion important for a teacher to teach? Can we learn without compassion? Is compassion a theoretical word or can you have a picture for compassion? Is compassion a primitive part of human nature? Or is it developed in relationship to another human being? Can compassion exist in an alone state? When I am full of compassion and I am looking at someone who is blank, can that become blame?

Later, it emerged in Ed that when Gary said he felt he had been reprimanded, in the moment he read it, he too felt that he had just been reprimanded. I then saw a picture of the two of them talking about compassion, but not sharing it with each other.

  • Is there compassion in this moment? Can compassion exist in a moment such as this? When I look at this am I trying to understand with compassion while alone? Is compassion two directional? Or is something that can exist in one direction?
  • What determines a person’s ability to experience compassion from another? Gary was able to experience Colleen’s response as compassionate, but experienced Ed’s response as a reprimand. How can Gary’s understanding of these two letters so differently?
  • What was it that Gary took in, in what Colleen wrote that he was able to experience as supportive and compassionate? Do certain words or phrases shape a picture of compassion? What was it that Gary pictured in Ed’s response that left a punitive impression?

Possible Student Response Questions (asked by John)


How perfect are things at times. I've been struggling with suffering the pain of witnessing another person's aloneness. And fighting the compulsion to interfere. I recently had an emergence about this. I realized that, as a kid, I would distract my mother when I saw her gearing up for another rampage, trying to spare my brother from a beating. I found the technique worked best when I made her laugh. I would come up with some off the cuff statement about my self at my expense or just plain old sarcasm directed at my brother, myself, or the issue.

Over the years, I lost sight of what this sarcasm was meant to do. Then I saw the thread. I couldn't see the difference between using sarcasm in dangerous situations and in situations with safe people. Granted I do believe there is a time and a place for every thing.

In any event, Inetta's questions spoke about a situation I perceive as similar to mine; could I and others with the same or a similar injury consider rescuing someone from the pain of discovery as compassion?

My first thoughts are that the true nature of compassion is counter intuitive to some folks. One needs to stay as conscious as possible during another's pain in order to see the injury, and in order to guide the injured person to discovery. After my recent emergence, my picture for compassion is different. I have to admit that it still isn't clear. I do know it does not include enabling, or the other extreme, cruel sarcasm. It would be nice if my new picture of compassion was as beautiful to an injured or shocked person as it is to me. I doubt it. Compassion is more important than being liked at that critical moment. As to my questions.

[1] Why is true compassion difficult and perceived compassion easier and not the other way around?

[2] What makes true compassion counter intuitive?

[3] Is it coincidence that I struggled with rescuing and Inetta asked these questions?

[4] Could my self and others with the same or a similar injury consider rescuing another from the pain of discovery as compassion?

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