Playful and Compassionate Approaches for Culturally Responsive Teaching


Learning often involves navigating uncomfortable conversations, within ourselves and with others. As educators, we strive to create spaces that invite and support students in their journeys of emotional and cognitive risk taking and expansion. Often, this work is resisted by colleagues and administrators who mistake the informal and caring tone of such approaches for lack of rigor. In our education courses, we, the authors, combine principles of Compassionate Integrity and playful learning to build learning experiences that encourage building bridges across cultural differences. Both play and the practices of Compassionate Integrity Training recognize that concrete and somatic experiences can pave the way to identify and make sense of more abstract cognitive and affective experiences. We use this understanding to organize this article, starting with descriptions of two examples from our practice (the concrete), one emphasizes compassion, the other playful approaches to learning. Next, we unpack these experiences through a conversation with literature. Then we explore how the experiences from our education courses could be useful to educators in other spaces. We conclude the article with wonderings about broader connections between play and compassion.


Playful learning, Compassion, CIT, Higher education, Culturally responsive teaching

How to Cite

Kharod, D. & Guzman-Foster, S. L., (2023) “Playful and Compassionate Approaches for Culturally Responsive Teaching”, The Journal of Play in Adulthood 5(1), 61-81. doi:







Deepti Kharod orcid logo (University of the Incarnate Word)
Sandra L. Guzman-Foster (University of the Incarnate Word)



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0


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