Compassionate Systems

in Hong Kong


About Compassionate Systems Framework in Schools

Context: All major challenges we currently face are part of an interconnected, global system. As we seek solutions to these worldwide issues, we must also find ways to help young people cope with their complexity. This involves teaching them how to understand, reflect and respond compassionately to systemic challenges in their own lives, their connections to one another and their impact on individuals and communities.


Origin: Co-developed by Peter Senge (renown MIT professor on organisational learning) and Mette Boell (specialist in evolution of social systems), the Compassionate Systems Framework draws from established social & emotional learning (SEL) models along with developments in the field of system dynamics.

Core idea: This framework views compassion as a systemic property of mind -- to cultivate compassion is to be able to appreciate the systemic forces that influence people’s feelings, thoughts and actions. It aims to develop models of thinking and teaching that prepare students to better understand and respond to systemic issues, thereby building a cognitive and affective foundation for global citizenship.

Traction: The initiative has gained tremendous traction globally and been adopted by many schools and entities such as International Baccalaureate (IB), Save the Children and California Department of Education. The tools have been applied in a variety of ways, e.g. embedded in lesson units for student learning, facilitate communication among teaching staff, resolve conflict among young people, incorporated into teaching certification and student leader training.


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Bringing Compassionate Systems to Hong Kong

Since 2018, CEL has been creating opportunities for educators in its Partner Schools to get exposed to the Compassionate Systems Framework. The most recent initiative was to bring a group of educators to attend the 3-day Compassionate Systems Leadership experience in Jakarta in Dec 2019.

“I am planning to introduce the Framework at school in the next school year...  With the growing awareness of both teachers and students, I hope that more profound interconnectedness could be developed at class and school level gradually.” ~ Maggie Chau (Principal, St. Stephen’s Girls’ College)

“It is great to use compassion as a catalyst for leadership training to school leaders... The compassion training is indeed perfect for student leaders as they will be facing a more complicated world.”  ~ Patricia Yeung (IBDP Coordinator, HKCCCU Logos Academy)

“I’ve tried using the “Check-in” (one of the tools) and some other sharing exercises in a teacher formation tour and a parent sharing session...  It created an open and safe atmosphere for people to share even the most vulnerable feeling or experience. A chemical reaction of trust and acceptance was built up.” ~ Daphne Ho (Principal, Marymount Primary School)

CEL is currently working with the Center for Systems Awareness to bring the Framework to benefit the wider Hong Kong education community.

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