Power of Humanity and Dignity Health partnered up to carry out an open dialect between two educational innovators: Oren J. Sofer and Dr. Nadia Lopez.
The e-meet and greet was meant to elaborate on their views regarding the challenges of education and how to bring compassion and positivity into the lives of young adults.
Dr. Nadia Lopez became an overnight sensation when one of the students in her school said she was the person who had influenced him the most in his life. He was asked to answer the question by Brandon Stanton, the online blogger and photographer who runs Humans of New York. Following up on the eighth-grader’s answer, he was then asked why he picked his principal, to which he replied that she wanted all of her students to know that they mattered.
Oren J. Sofer devoted his life to forming a method that would enhance learning capabilities for children.
He believes that by connecting their minds and hearts, mindfulness is created, thus transforming the way that students learn.
His theories focus on helping kids regulate their emotions and relating to others in order to succeed in life.
The conversation was not constrained by a limited period of time, but was one that gradually developed over the course of about a week.
Oren J. Sofer explained that he teaches “mindfulness and communication around the country to adults, educators, therapists, and healthcare practitioners.”
However, the main part of his work is actually as Senior Program Developer for Mindful Schools, “where we train educators in mindfulness for their own well-being and to share those tools with their students as a foundational life-skill,” he wrote.
After a short intoduction, Sofer asked Lopez what drives her approach to the school’s mission, to which the Dr. replied:
“I firmly believe that we must provide our scholars with social emotional support in order for each of them to develop a healthy sense of self and how to relate to others in a positive manner.”
As for her approach, Dr. Lopez explained the importance of globalization, saying:
“We want our scholars to be compassionate, respectful, loving, and accepting, therefore we create a curriculum that is centered around global citizenship. This helps them to explore the world and gain compassion for others, both locally and beyond, by asking questions, analyzing perspectives, and sharing their own personal experiences.”
Sofer agreed with this statement, and added a short story of a time he felt as though he was healing others through his work:
“I remember teaching mindfulness one day in Oakland. After a few moments of mindful breathing, I asked the class who remembered to use their mindfulness since they last saw me. One young boy, about 8 or 9 years old, raised his hand and said, “There were gunshots last night outside my house. I was scared, and so I did mindful breathing.”
He was still shaken up, but the fact that he had a tool to use in that moment to help calm his fear was so moving. We talked about it some more, how scary it must have been, and what else we could do in moments like that.”
While the two clearly have different approaches and methods in their field of work, it is encouraging to see them bridge the gap and have open minds, demonstrating exactly what the educational system should be like.