Eclectic Curiosity

Roots of Empathy

Posted on June 16th, 2005, by Steve Hardy in Archives, Uncategorized. No Comments

Just as introducing pets into nursing homes and long-term care facilities has been found to provide many benefits for the well-being and happiness of seniors and the chronically ill, infants brought into grade schools is proving to work effectively at improving the “emotional literacy” of kids and teens. By bringing an infant and its parent into classrooms once a month for a year, Toronto-based Roots of Empathy has created a beautifully innovative curriculum-supported program that fosters the development of empathy (I refer once again to Dan Pink’s book A Whole New Mind, which sets out empathy as one of the six essential “senses” of the Conceptual Age), prepares students for responsible and responsive parenting, reduces levels of bullying, aggression and violence in children’s lives (ultimately leading to more peaceful societies), and increases knowledge of human development, learning, and infant safety. As RoE founder Mary Gordon puts it, “Love grows brains.”

Empathy is one of the characteristics of successful learners. According to one researcher (B.F. Jones, 1990) “successful students often recognize that much of their success involves their ability to communicate with others … they are also able to view themselves and the world through the eyes of others. This means … examining beliefs and circumstances of others, keeping in mind the goal of enhanced understanding and appreciation. Successful students value sharing experiences with persons of different backgrounds as enriching their lives.”

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