Compassion in the Classroom: One Professor’s Approach to Compassion
Katherine “Kathe” Lehman-Meyer is a visiting associate professor of Communication Studies at St. Mary’s University. She has been with the university for eighteen years and has been teaching communication studies even before it became a full degree program.
Professor Lehman-Meyer is currently teaching a Senior Capstone course to graduating Communication Studies majors and has been incorporating modules of the CompassionateUSA Microcourse in her curriculum. The main aspects of the CompassionateUSA that attracted her were the modules on self-compassion and reducing stress. When considering integrating this course in the classroom, Lehman-Meyer thought “What’s in it for the student?”
She understood that the final semesters before graduating are a very stressful time in a student’s life, and she wanted to provide her students a resource for navigating the world that did not “disappear” after graduation. She stated that compassion is vital in communication work and student success. She loves the interactive aspect of the course and sees value in having a third party administer the course to her students. She said it allows her students to “open up without the fear of a grade or retribution on the part of the faculty member.”
Lehman-Meyer has extensive experience with compassion work. Throughout her career Lehmen-Meyer has felt like “a square peg in a round hole” because she saw the world differently, always looking through a compassionate lens. With compassion being her strongest attribute, she has been able to integrate it into different courses and help people find their personal callings. She says that when she took the microcourse herself that her stress and overall health improved even though her workload had increased.
Lehman-Meyer has found great success in using the course and has gotten incredibly positive feedback from her students. Even though she only required the students to do a couple of the modules for her class, she has reported students returning to finish the course.
Lehman-Meyer states that compassion “teaches us how to manage ourselves, how to work with others” and “how to work within organizations and create organizations that could be more life-giving.”