What Happens When Compassion Meets Competition?

Guest Blog Post from Sara Schairer of CompassionIt.

Originally posted here: https://compassionit.com/2018/06/06/what-happens-when-compassion-meets-competition/

I teamed up with Gary Ware of Breakthrough Play and Jeff Harry of Play-Well TEKnologies for Global School Playday on February 7, 2018. We led a compassion- and play-focused experiment for High Tech High School 10th graders, because we were curious about the question,

What happens when compassion meets competition?

We each led students through 45-minute workshops. I focused on cultivating compassion, and during Gary’s workshop, students used improv and play to practice empathy, listening, and team-building.

Jeff led the final workshop. He loaded 10 tables with Legos, and he labeled each table as a different country. Some of the tables represented low-income nations, and some represented high-income nations.

The students formed teams and picked their tables. Jeff gave them written instructions, and he told them to “produce as much food as you can.” The students built conveyor belts out of Legos and then created “food” out of Lego bricks. When the food reached the end of the conveyor belts, students would collect it and stack it on their nations in the middle of the room.

What the students didn’t know is that the low-income countries weren’t given enough resources to complete the task. Some of them were missing parts to their conveyor belts, and others didn’t have enough bricks to create food.

The wealthier nations, however, had more than enough Legos.

The high-income nations like the United States and Canada began producing large amounts of food right off the bat. At the same time, the developing nations clearly struggled. For example, the Dominican Republic students were left to fend for themselves despite asking for help from other nations. The students eventually gave up and sat back feeling frustrated and dejected.

When time was up, we took time to debrief with the students. Jeff asked, “What was the assignment I gave you?”

The students replied, “To produce as much food as we could for our nation.”

Jeff shook his head and said, “No. I asked you to produce as much food as you could. I didn’t say it was for your country. Do you think you produced as much as you could since several countries didn’t produce any food?”

The students looked sheepish as they realized they had incorrectly assumed this was a competition. I asked the United States team if they shared Legos with any other nations.

“No,” one student replied.

His group had received several requests for help, so I inquired, “Why not?”

“Because we’re ‘merica,” he said.

Each student wore a wristband with the words “Compassion It” on it.  Despite the visual reminder and two workshops that primed them in compassion, most students ignored requests for help.

I’m happy to report that we did find some outliers. A few students went out of their way to deliver Legos to those who needed them.

What’s my takeaway from this? When we’re involved in a perceived competition, we seem to ignore the needs of others.  Compassion takes a back seat when we want to win.

Our society makes competition a part of everyday life, from athletics to our careers. We prioritize a winning mindset over a compassionate mindset, and that’s what we pass down to our children.

So what can we do about it? We can start by including sportsmanship and compassion when we compete.

We should also teach our youth that life is not a zero-sum game. When we help each other, everyone wins.

Want to cultivate compassion within and also support Compassion It’s efforts to make our world more compassionate? Be a Compassion It Advocate! Learn more.

Celebrating International LEGO Day At Austin Public Library

On Sunday, January 28th, 2017, we will be celebrating International LEGO Day with families at Austin Central Library.  Families have the opportunity to build the city of Austin out of 40,000 LEGO Pieces.

Location: Austin Library Special Event Center, First Floor, 710 W. César Chávez St., Austin, TX

Time: 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Click HERE for more details.

Here is our last City Build in Austin, TX.

AWS Attendees Built The Longest LEGO GBC Build Ever Done In The City Las Vegas

At AWS re:Invent 2017, we helped AWS attendees build the longest LEGO Great Ball Contraption ever done in the city of Las Vegas.  It was made up of 84 individual modules and contained over 48,000 LEGO® pieces.  We also provided a Pinewood Derby Track, where attendees could race LEGO® vehicles for prizes.  Check out what they created:

Here is the entire LEGO GBC Run

Pinewood Derby with LEGO® Materials

 

5 Years After Breaking A World Record For Charity, The Dreamcatcher Playground Is Complete

5 years ago, we collaborated the Rotary Dreamcatcher Playground Team, Conejo Recreation and Park DistrictRotary International to break a World Record for charity.  The goal was to bring awareness and raise funds for a state-of-the-art playground for special needs children.

That dream was recently fulfilled with the opening of the Rotary Dreamcatcher Playground.  We feel really lucky to be able to help at the beginning of this campaign.

If you’d like us to help out with your organization or charity, check out Special Events Page here.

Press Advisory: Building Washington D.C. out of LEGO To Bring The Community Together

In the midst of all the saddening news around immigration, DACA, the pending Supreme Court decision regarding the travel ban, and discussion around what it is to be an American, there is an event on the outskirts of the politically divided beltway that represents the exact opposite of these storylines.  In Silver Spring, MD a community is deciding to come together by playing, despite their differences.
On Saturday, September 16th, 2017, at the Silver Spring International Middle School, recently resettled refugee families will be building the towns, villages, and cities that they recently left out of LEGO bricks.  The International Rescue Committee Silver Spring has been working closely with these families as they get acquainted with their new homeland.
Later that day, the IRC Silver Spring will be inviting local families from the Silver Spring Community to meet their new neighbors and together they will build Washington D.C. out of 40,000 LEGO® pieces. The event revolves around connection, community, and play.
Date: Saturday, September 16th, 2017
Time: 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Location: Silver Spring International Middle School, 313 Wayne Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910
Press Contact:
Preethi Nampoothiri, Deputy Director
International Rescue Committee Silver Spring
Here are examples of Play-Well’s other city builds: