How often do we, as parents/grandparents, do this with young children, as a way of getting them to do what we would like them to, and in a reasonable time! We hear it at the beginning of races, such as we have seen in the Commonwealth Games. And at athletic and swimming sports carnivals at MECS.
How did these 3 little words come about? What’s the purpose? Regardless of the context, it is about being prepared, getting into the right position, and then commencing the task. We all do this to some extent, whether it’s rolling out of bed in the morning to start our day, heading out to do shopping or make a visit, or squaring our shoulders as we walk through the door into a situation that may be challenging.
In Learning Support, we refer to the 3 Rs. No, it’s not “Reading, wRiting, ‘Rithmetic”. We refer to a sequence that engages the brain ready for learning, for performing a task... “Regulate, Relationship, Reason”. Neurological scientists have undertaken research on this subject over a number of years. Dr Bruce Perry, an American psychiatrist, researcher and teacher, has popularised these 3 Rs, especially in the area of emotional development of young children. Dr Perry is co-author of a book “Born For Love: Why Empathy is Essential and Endangered” (Bruce D. Perry and Maia Szalavitz. Harper Collins US. 2011). The premise is that the capacity to love has enabled humans to survive and that empathy is necessary for effective relationships. Loving is being able to withhold judgement, putting ourselves in someone else’s position, and caring about their situation, their circumstances.
None of this is new truth. We know this already because the Bible tells us “God is love.” (1 John 4:8). “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). We see it in a number of the interactions Jesus had with others, such as the woman at the well. I wonder how the woman felt when she realised Jesus was talking to her. Fearful? Incredulous? Jesus already knew her story. He asked her a favour. His simple request for a drink of water helped prepare her for further conversation, helped establish the relationship. Jesus knew her real needs; so much more than water from the well. How beautifully that conversation went on, resulting in her realising who was speaking with her! And can you imagine the look on the disciples faces when they arrived. The Message tells us “They were shocked. They couldn’t believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it.” (John 4 ;27). I wonder what the outcome would have been if they were at the well, instead of Jesus!
We all need the empathy, the love, that Jesus showed the Samaritan woman. And as followers of Jesus, we are called to learn from Him.
“Ready” - What do we see in those we engage with? Is our initial response one of empathy, seeking to understand, and support the regulation of emotions that may be present?
“Set” - How do we seek to establish relationship, so that the real work of being ready to learn, ready to have discussions and conversations, can happen?
When those needs have been met, then we can shout encouragingly and triumphantly...