“If you could teach children the way things exist (interconnected and impermanent), then what would arise out of that would be a healthy emotional state of mind.” 
~ Pam Cayton

Universal Education was a vision of Lama Thupten Yeshe. The educational organization that was founded to realize this vision aims to merge universal values in education, and Pam Cayton has been actively involved in its flourishing over last 20 years. She founded the ‘Tara Redwood School” in Santa Cruz, California, has published ‘Compassion in Education’ and runs the international program ‘Creating Compassionate Cultures’ (CCC).

Since 1989, Pam Cayton and the staff at Tara Redwood School have researched, created and implemented strategies for awakening compassion, wisdom and social responsibility in the minds and hearts of children. The Seven Steps to Knowledge, Strength and Compassion is a unique, secular educational methodology developed at our non profit private school in Santa Cruz, California.

The Seven Steps to Knowledge, Strength, and Compassion

1. Mindful Intention
What do I really want?
Explore the dynamic psychology of our daily lives and the impact of developing our awareness of what we really want, how we can achieve it, and how to avoid habitual behaviors that thwart our happiness.

2. Interconnection
Everything is connected
Examine the interconnected nature of our world, how the global impacts the personal, and our thoughts and actions directly affect ourselves, others, and the environment.

3. Change
Everything changes
Recognize the freedom that comes by understanding the pervasive nature of change and the endless possibilities available to us in every moment.

4. Perception
My mind creates my reality
Develop understanding of the nature of perception through exploring neuroscience, psychology and ancient wisdom to discover how we create our view of ourselves and the world.

5. Transformation
Transforming harmful emotions
Experience the nature of emotion and the freedom to choose responses that will impact our lives and the lives of those around us in a positive way.

6. Empathy
Extend your understanding to others
Awaken empathy by observing the universal wish for happiness, realizing the kindness of many and recognizing how fortunate we are to be able to make a positive difference in the world.

7. Compassion
Put your compassion into action!
Take action to use our new found inspiration and empowerment in positive and beneficial acts towards others and ourselves.

We nurture the child’s evolving sense of self through our contemplative methodology and practical application in developing positive interpersonal skills, self-awareness and the ability to think critically, constructively and altruistically for the greater good in order to provide a foundation for our children to live a happy, successful and meaningful life. We offer a program that offers education to develop knowledge (wisdom), strength (confidence), and compassion (loving kindness).

The CCC program blends ancient Eastern and Western wisdom integrated with the latest neuro science and psychology about early childhood development. The core premise is that all human beings possess the ability to develop their innate wisdom, ethical sensibilities and sympathetic understanding, and that aim of education is to help children grow into well–rounded individuals and responsible members of the world community. We offer our students a myriad of creative activities in order for them to explore their feelings and communication skills as well as practice concepts of daily intention and reflections.

Each year, all the grades are given a theme and intention from which they aspire to complete their scholastic year. An example of a scholastic project in each grade is creating Compassion Art Cards, which are individually created by our students with mixed media water colors and ink.The cards are printed in stacks of 12 with envelopes and the proceeds from the sales go to a charity chosen by the students.

Through CCC practices, our educators encourage students to engage in acts of kindness and practices for conflict resolution. Our mission is to see our students become capable beings able to make a positive difference in the world. Our unique curriculum  supports such development of individuals and communities who are insightful and compassionate.

To learn more about Pam Cayton’s work, Universal Education, and the “7 Steps of Developing Strength, Wisdom and Compassion,” explore the following resources:


Images: 1 – kids at Tara Redwood School, 2 — Pam Cayton.