What is Compassionate Education?

with Margaret Golden, Frances Maratos, Rachel Killam, Karen Bluth and Kathryn Waddington

Across the world a new framework for education is emerging based on the principals of compassion. Seen as a shift from more competitive or hierarchical approaches, this has been driven by both the desire to create educational environments that inspire learning but also by a recognition of the need to enhance children and young adult's learning about their brains and emotional states. Together with experts we will explore the ideas behind a compassionate education and how we can put them into practice.

Margaret Golden

Frances Maratos

Rachel Killam

Karen Bluth

Kathryn Waddington


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Frances Maratos is a Chartered Psychologist and Professor of Psychology and Affective Science at the University of Derby. Her research within the field of Affective (or Emotion) Science has centred on understanding psychological, neurological, cognitive and physiological correlates of emotional wellbeing. In particular, her research has contributed to: understanding anxiety, its development in childhood as well as its implications in eating disorders; understanding processes of pain; processes of threat and self-criticism in children and adults; and the use of compassion to promote better emotion regulation, wellbeing and prosocial behaviours across various populations. She has published circa 60 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters in these areas, the majority in Quartile 1 journals, and has been involved in the award of circa £1.3 million in grant applications. In example, this includes ‘Compassion in Education’ applied research Prof Maratos leads on globally. Frances is further currently involved in funded research focused on understanding self-critical rumination, self-reassurance, and suicidal thoughts/behaviour in youth with Brown University, USA, for whom she serves as an external expert. She is also a spokesperson for the Education section of the Global Compassion Coalition. Connect with Frances on LinkedIn.

Rachel Keener Killam has been a Student Affairs professional for the past 15 years, serving as a career counselor at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and currently at The University of Tampa. Her university service includes chairing the Student Affairs Professional Development Committee to support staff learning and development in addition to bolstering career sustainability. Rachel is also an Interdisciplinary Education doctoral student at the University of South Florida, bringing together Higher Education Administration, Philosophy, and Compassion Studies. Her work and research aim to infuse compassion as a systemic norm for professional practice and decision-making for staff/faculty flourishing. Rachel has published and presented on how compassion can disrupt neoliberal norms that shape Student Affairs and higher education. Connect with Rachel on LinkedIn.

Margaret Golden is a Professor Emerita at Dominican University of California and the Education Community Manager at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. As a professor at Dominican University, she worked with the Center for Courage and Renewal, founded by Parker J. Palmer, to facilitate the Courage to Teach© and Leading Together© programs dedicated to supporting teacher well-being and the revitalization of school communities. She currently works with the education team at the Greater Good Science Center to design and facilitate science-based communities of practice working to change the dominant narrative in education to one that values kindness, cooperation and other pro-social qualities. Margaret is the coauthor of Teach Our Children Well: Essential Strategies for the Urban Classroom and editor of Teaching and Learning from the Inside Out: Revitalizing Ourselves and Our Institutions. She lives in Berkeley with her partner, David, is the proud mother of four amazing young adults, and just welcomed her first grandchild into the world. She enjoys the practice of yoga, long walks in the hills, travels to the sea, and quality time with family and friends. 

Dr. Karen Bluth is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, where she conducts research on self-compassion and its influences on the emotional wellbeing of teens. Dr. Bluth is co-creator of the curriculum Mindful Self-Compassion for Teens and the author of the five books on self-compassion for teens including “The Self-Compassion Workbook for Teens: Mindfulness and Compassion Skills to Overcome Self-Criticism and Embrace Who You Are”. Her forthcoming book, “Mindful Self-Compassion for Teens in Schools: A 16-session Social and Emotional Learning Curriculum” (PESI Publishers) will be released in summer 2024.

As a certified Mindful Self-Compassion teacher, she regularly teaches residents, fellows, and staff at UNC hospitals. In addition, she is the 2022 recipient of the inaugural Mind and Life Foundation award for Public Communication of Contemplative Research.

As a mindfulness practitioner for over 45 years, a mindfulness teacher, and an educator with 18 years of
classroom teaching experience, Dr. Bluth frequently gives talks, conducts workshops, and teaches classes in self-compassion and mindfulness in educational and community settings. In addition, she trains teachers in Mindful Self-Compassion for Teens internationally.

Kathryn Waddington is an Emerita Fellow in Psychology at the University of Westminster, Principal Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy, and Chartered Coaching Psychologist. Her research interests and scholarship include the need for critical approaches to compassion in higher education and working with students as co-researchers in the development of compassionate learning and teaching
practices and campus cultures. Her publications include Towards the Compassionate University (2021, Routledge) and Developing Pedagogies of Compassion in Higher Education: A Practice First Approach (2024, forthcoming, Springer). Connect with Kathryn on LinkedIn.

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