Monthly Article Archives: September 2010

To Nurture Caring and Empathy in Children: Let’s Rely on Modeling and Action, Not LecturingRobert Brooks, Ph.D.

During the past month I have had the opportunity to speak with thousands of staff, faculty, and administrators in school districts throughout the United States as they prepare for the new school year.  I am often asked to describe those mindsets and strategies that enrich the social and emotional climate of a classroom- a climate in which motivation, learning, and hope are reinforced in students. One key message in all of my talks is the importance of providing students with opportunities to contribute to the well-being of others, activities that promote empathy, compassion, and resilience.  My decision to devote this month’s article to this topic was based, in part, upon reading a piece written by Maia Szalavitz titled “How Not to Raise a Bully: The Early Roots of Empathy.”  The article was published on the Time website. Szalavitz writes, “Over the past decade, research in empathy- the ability to put ourselves in another’s shoes- has suggested that it is key, if not the key, to all human social interaction and morality. . . .   Although human nature has historically been seen as essentially selfish, recent science suggests that it is not.  The capacity for empathy is believed to be innate

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