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.

Spec Conference By Slack

spec by Slack Wall

We Built Austin Out of LEGO® at SXSWedu

During SXSWedu, we help create a LEGO version of the City of Austin with the help of teachers, school administrators, and students.

We started with one building and watch the evolution throughout the event.

 

A high school band even came by.

Celebrating 20 Years of Playing Well!

20 years ago, our founder, Tim Bowen, had an idea to introduce kids to the world of engineering through playing with LEGO®, when the concept of S.T.E.M. had not even been popularized yet. Since then, Play-Well has been lucky enough to teach over 800,000 kids. Here is the story of how a crazy idea became an engineering program for kids that now teaches over 100,000 kids a year all over the United States.

Thanks, everyone that has ever participated in a Play-Well Program.  We couldn’t have gotten here without you.

Creating Downtown Novato out of 40,000 LEGO® Pieces

On Saturday, May 20th, 2017, Play-Well TEKnologies collaborated with the South Novato Library and families in the community to build Novato out of 40,000 LEGO® Bricks. Families rebuilt the city of Novato, as they would like to see it. Families got to tackle these questions through play:

  • If you had the chance to design the city, how would you design it?
  • What else would you add to the city that you currently think is missing?
  • How would you make Novato even better than it is now?

Here is what they came up with.

Building The City of Honolulu out of 20,000 LEGO® Pieces

On Saturday, June 3, 2017, Play-Well TEKnologies and the Hawaii State Public Library will be collaborating together to create an opportunity for families to build the city of Honolulu out of 20,000 LEGO® Bricks.  Families will have the opportunity to create Honolulu, as they would like to see it.  They can construct the library, downtown Honolulu, their own home, school, playgrounds, parks etc., all out of 20,000 LEGO® pieces all for FREE.  Kids will explore hands-on architecture and learn about how to build strong structures out of LEGO® bricks.

The event is the Kick-off to Hawaii State Public Library’s Summer Reading Program and is completely FREE to the public.  We do encourage families to register at the link below, as the event may sell out.

Here are the details:

Date & Time:  Saturday, June 3rd, 2017 / 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM

(You can register for one of six different 30-minute time slots throughout the day)

Location: Hawaii State Public Library, 478 South King Street, Honolulu, HI 96813

Register For The City of Honolulu Build Here

Event Contacts:

Frequently Asked Questions:

What do these city builds look like?

Can I drop my kid off at the event?

  • We ask that parents stay with their kids at all times

Will the kids get to keep their LEGO® creations after the event is over?

Can kids bring their own LEGO pieces to add to the city?

  • We ask that kids keep their LEGO® pieces at home as we would not want them to lose their favorite LEGO® pieces

We aren’t able to make it to the event, but would love for you to come to our neighborhood or school.  Is that possible?

How Long Has Play-Well Been in Hawaii?

For more information about Play-Well, visit play-well.org or send a question to Wrenn Okada at Wrenn@play-well.org.