Loving Classroom at The House of Lords, June 2018

Last Tuesday, 12.6.18, we were extremely privileged to be hosted at the House of Lords by Lord Stone of Blackheath to talk about Relationship Education.

We shared our curriculum of eight virtues: Respect, Compassion, Listening, Kindness, Gratitude, Love, Care and Friendship.

Our goal is that excellent Relationship Education should be the foundation of all core curricula of the educational systems throughout the world – building a loving world.

Over the course of the afternoon we were joined by around 50 Head Teachers and Principals, from a range of UK schools, who had the pleasure of hearing Lord Stone and Sir Anthony Seldon speak about the importance of good relationships and mindfulness. Following this, our team described Loving Classroom's history, ran a compelling relationship-building tool, led a purposeful sing-song and then concluded the event by outlining our next steps for building a loving world: implementing our curriculum in as many UK schools as possible.

It was a fantastic opportunity which, we are pleased to say has already borne fruit by affording us personal follow-up meetings with school senior leadership teams to ensure our programme is fully integrated into each school’s curriculum in time for the coming academic year.

Love and blessings,
David, Naomi and Gemma

For more information on the day…

Lord Stone of Blackheath

Lord Stone used his experience of meditation and mindfulness as a tool for positive change in The House of Lords. By introducing regular group meditations to four hundred staff in The House, colleagues have experienced much more harmonious interactions. It was this that led Lord Stone to be so supportive of Loving Classroom. He realised that teachers and parents didn’t have the tools to teach young people about this kind of reflective practice and so he is an advocate of bringing programmes like ours into the mainstream of UK and international education.

Sir Anthony Seldon

Sir Anthony started off with an important story about his journey to the event. Upon hearing that we would be discussing Relationship Education, the taxi driver wisely shared this; “It seems to be the more we communicate in our world, the less we communicate.” We live in times of widespread social media which can have a negative impact on the quality of social relationships.

Sir Anthony has worked in schools for twenty years and more recently within a university setting. Seeing young people developing means that he has noticed the rise in mental health issues over that time and often this is linked to relationships or support networks not being good enough quality. As a student, he went on a meditation course and has been meditating ever since. He shared with us some wisdom from a psychiatrist he met …

“Living at harmony with ones self is the height of mental wellness.”

We then had the pleasure of taking part in a group-guided meditation to calm the senses, experience our bodies and notice our state.

David Geffen

As the founder of Loving Classroom, David explained how the programme came about. Born in Bournemouth, he later moved to Israel with his wife where he noticed a palpable hatred amongst those with differing religious and political outlooks. His practical wife, Naomi, urged him not just to feel concerned about it, but to actually do something practical. This led David into the world of conflict resolution where he successfully ran workshops to help opposing sides genuinely dialogue with each other. However, as one fire was put out, more and more kept appearing.

After some time it felt like he wasn’t making any lasting change to the peace process: he was dealing with emergency medicine, but wasn't changing society. David took the bold decision to change track and work in preventative medicine: to take the skills of mediation and relationship education into schools and deliver workshops to young people who would grow into adults with the skills and the desire for peace.

David trained students directly for some time but eventually realised this modus operandi was unsustainable. He recalibrated to write the Loving Classroom book, which could be delivered by in-house teachers. This would create an even more personal approach in the classroom and make the programme scalable, nationwide and globally. This has led to Loving Classroom organisations being set up in Israel, the UK and South Africa – with many more countries interested!

Gemma Perkins

Gemma has a background in primary teaching but left to start her own business in youth work because of her disagreements with the content and exam-orientated curriculum. She met David via her youth work and was able to bring an educational edge to the Loving Classroom philosophy. Emerging from this fusion are a training manual, lesson plans, links to the national curriculum and other resources that allow Loving Classroom to integrate into schools in a relevant and easy way – saving teachers a lot of time and giving them confidence in the programme.

At the House of Lords event, Gemma demonstrated one of many activities from the Loving Classroom programme. The audience of head teachers each wrote a note to someone in their personal lives, with whom they wanted a better relationship. Gemma then led them through a guided relaxation exercise before they each re-wrote their notes. In the space of a mere 10 minutes the audience recognized the difference in their pre- and post-relaxation language:

“I was less judgemental the second time.”
“It’s definitely more focussed on moving forward rather than giving blame.”
“In the second note, I took more time to think about why I was grateful for that person.”
“The first one was more pragmatic – about problem solving. The second was more spiritual – about the wonderful things we could achieve together with shared values.”

Naomi Geffen

Naomi and David have been married for 35 years and knows the joys and challenges of raising three children with special educational needs. She shared how this turned her into a child advocate and how each of the tools in the programme has been tried and tested in real life situations.

Being a qualified lawyer means that she thinks in a grounded and methodical way: “What is the value of this? How do I know it works?”

Over the years of curriculum development Naomi described how she has been able to use the mantras and tools to turn difficult situations into more harmonious ones. She experienced a frustrating few months interacting with a local council rep. trying to secure her child’s government-funded bus pass. When face-to-face with someone who was refusing to meet her child’s needs, she took a moment to remember “painful behaviour comes from people in pain.” In that moment she used tools from the programme to show compassion to the other, empathising with this particular clerk's daily grind handling complaints from irate, frustrated families, and they both held a really human, caring conversation. This created a harmony that allowed them both to solve the problem in a way that would not have happened otherwise.

Primary Song

David initially developed the programme for secondary schools and we are now proud to be launching our Primary school version (for ages 7-11) based around songs. Each of the eight virtues has been transformed into a fun, but informative song for children to learn in class and assemblies. Each song triggers a relationship education activity that solidifies the learning for that chapter and makes it memorable.

We were very encouraged that members of our audience sang along and reflected on the beautiful lights in their lives.

Next Steps

We hope that everyone had a fantastic time. It was certainly exciting for us to have such a positive response, thoughtful questions and to start booking meetings with schools to pin down where and how the programme will fit in.

If you would like to hear more about what we do, sample the materials or book training for your staff then please do email training@lovingclassroom.com

Thank you again for everyone who was involved – in any way whatsoever – in making this happen. We are that bit closer to building a loving world.

David, Naomi & Gemma