Teaching Kids Empathy, Changing Lives

April 5, 2009 at 8:41 pm 3 comments

empathyFrom the New York Times:

“As a school, we’ve done a lot of work with human rights,” said Michael McDermott, the middle school principal. “But you can’t have kids saving Darfur and isolating a peer in the lunchroom. It all has to go together.”

Scarsdale Middle School has the right idea.  They’ve launched a tremendous campaign to change their school culture by explicitly teaching students about empathy.  This is a fantastic idea and central to combating the bullying epidemic.  Direct, relevant information about exuding empathy towards others and examples of empathy in action are examples of the types of content PlumbBrain will provide kids everywhere.  Kudos to the Scarsdale crew for starting the conversation about empathy at their school!

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Entry filed under: Attitude, Communication, Doing Good, Education, Kids, Learning, Opportunities, PlumbBrain, Relationships, Youth. Tags: , , .

Youth Bored With Current Social Networks Kids DO Care, Even If They Don’t Show It

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Beth Carls  |  April 6, 2009 at 7:32 am

    Thanks for sharing the great example of positive things our teens and their school are doing to teach character traits we all need to pay attention to. And, thank you to the students at Scarsdale Middle School and Principal McDermott.

    One interesting quote in the NY Times article was from Michael Petrilli, someone I met several years ago when he worked in the Bush Administration’s Department of Education. “‘Who could be against teaching empathy?’ said Michael Petrilli, a vice president for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education policy group in Washington. ‘But there’s a laundry list of seemingly important activities that, when added together, crowd out the academic mission of our schools.'”

    Our research found that the academic mission of our schools is in no way “crowded out” when you’re dealing with addressing the social-emotional issues of our students. In fact, grade point averages improve when you deal with the social-emotional issues going on for our children that distress them and keep them from having the best learning experience.

  • 2. Amy Looper  |  April 6, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Kudos to Scarsdale Middle School!

    I find the article about this schools commitment to the specific character trait of empathy exciting for several reasons:

    1) I think this wonderful example supports the hypothesis that youth, when given the opportunity to actively participate in their own growth and well being, will step up to the plate to self teach and self manage with one another to do the right thing. they may not always get it right as some of the student’s mention, but trying to do the right thing is a very good start to the process.

    2) It also shows how important it is for the adults (parents and educators in this school’s case) to step up and lead by example through their commitment to providing an environment for these valuable lessons to be nurtured and supported across the board.

    I strongly believe that academic learning simply can not be successful without having this kind of underpinning of a character based cultural setting within our schools. I think Mr McDermott sums it up in the best way that I have ever heard it stated “But you can’t have kids saving Darfur and isolating a peer in the lunchroom. It all has to go together.”

    Well said!

    I’d love to hear more and invite the dialog to continue through our blog from others as well as this school—it’s parents, educators and students alike on how they continue to embrace this philosophy and more importantly how it’s making an impact in their daily lives!

    Wishing you all continued success! Thanks for sharing!

  • 3. Michael McDermott  |  April 13, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Thank you for the positive comments about our work with empathy. It is obviously a work in progess but we feel very supported in our efforts when we read what you have written and the fact that you have used your site to promote this essentail part of every adolescent’s development. We will be discussing ways to share more of our work and stay connected with you


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