Monthly Article Archives: September 2014

Of Greater Importance to Teens: Compassion or Achievement?Robert Brooks, Ph.D.

“What is most important to you? Achieving at a high level, happiness (defined, in part, as feeling good most of the time), or caring for others?” This question was asked of 10,000 middle and high school students throughout the United States. Those who responded represented a wide range of youth from different races, backgrounds, and socioeconomic classes. The study also included hundreds of interviews with children, parents, and teachers during the past 10 years. Of the three factors—high achievement, feeling happy, and caring for others—which do you think was rated the highest? This study was conducted by psychologist Dr. Richard Weissbourd and his colleagues at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The findings of the survey together with implications and recommendations were summarized in the report “The Children We Mean to Raise: The Real Messages Adults Are Sending About Values,” which may be found at http://sites.gse.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/making-caring-common/files/mcc_report_7.2.14.pdf   I first learned about the study in an article written by Deborah Kotz that appeared in The Boston Globe on July 21. Interestingly, one week earlier an article authored by Julie Halpert, in which I was quoted, was published on the caring.com website. The article focused on how helping others can enrich your own

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