Empathy News

Mindfulness as an effective solution to teacher burnout has recently been established.

January 5, 2017 – In this NPR article by Corey Turner, featuring a study conducted by Patricia Jennings. “..The teachers who received mindfulness training ‘showed reduced psychological distress and time urgency — which is this feeling like you don’t have enough time. And then improvements in mindfulness and emotion regulation.’  Translation: These teachers were better able to cope with classroom challenges and manage their feelings, which made it easier for them to manage their students’ big feelings. And that, says Jennings, helps students learn.” Read more at: http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/12/30/505432203/teachers-are-stressed-and-that-should-stress-us-all

“What do you do when the bottom falls out?” by Rick Hanson

Jim Manske’s insight:
This our chance to practice resilience and healing.  First, self-care!  Then, we need to listen to one another, and from that deep listening take steps that acknowledge everyone’s needs, and begin compassionately addressing them with whole-heartedness.  What can you do, right now, to take care of yourself?  Is reading social media and the news supporting your well-being, right now?  If so,  yay!  If not, make a new choice!


kid-helping-kid-with-bandage“The sooner we understand what empathy means, and the importance of it, the sooner we can live a more peaceful existence. Various studies even reinforce that the more empathy a child displays, the less likely they are to bully someone else. They are also more likely to share with and help others, and less likely to be antisocial or exhibit uncontrolled aggressive behaviours.  This is why educators are devoting more attention to empathy in recent years.”….

“What is the best way to ease someone’s pain and suffering? In this beautifully animated RSA Short, Dr Brené Brown reminds us that we can only create a genuine empathic connection if we are brave enough to really get in touch with our own fragilities.” by Alexa Erickson


Design Thinking in the Elementary Classroom: the Power of Empathy

By Beth Holland on May 11, 2016 6:11 PM

The kids in this 1st grade teacher’s class prove that empathy can be cultivated from an early age. This article describes how the kids “came to their own realization that their actions impacted others and that this issue caused extra work for the school custodian. In essence, they defined the problem for themselves.

Then, Julie’s students recognized that they needed to DO something about it. More than just fixing their own actions, they recognized the need to educate their peers…”

Read more at: http://blogs.edweek.org/

1st graders developing empathy

1st Graders Developing Empathy

In Denmark, students learn empathy the way they learn math, in school. Not coincidentally, the Danes are the happiest people on earth

Anyone anywhere who has children learns quickly this inalienable truth about humans: We are inherently, naturally and spectacularly selfish creatures. From first cry to last breath, our needs blot out everything else in what is perhaps an evolutionary necessity but is also an ingredient for an unpleasant world at best, and a dangerous one at worst.

What children do not come by naturally is empathy, the ability to understand another person’s perspective and want to help them. Empathy, as it turns out, is a skill—akin to math or science or writing—that must be taught, over and over and over. And it must be taught. Not only does empathy help turn children into more pleasing people; it also is a key to forging social connections that contribute to overall happiness and success.

No one does this better than Denmark—which is, not coincidentally, the happiest country on earth, according to a United Nations-sponsored World Happiness Report. In Denmark, empathy is taught in schools, on par with math and science and literature. As Jessica Alexander and Iben Sandahl describe in their new book, The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids, Danish students spend part of every week following a deliberate curriculum to help them hone their social skills and become more generous, compassionate and socially-conscious people.

Danish children learn, from a young age, that being connected socially—and empathetically—to other people is as important as securing a high grade on their exams. They carry this with them beyond the school walls, into adulthood and their communities. It’s like counteractive programming: Yes, survival requires selfishness; but living takes something much harder—generosity.

The programs start in kindergarten, with children being shown pictures that express different emotions. They identify them, talk about what the pictured child might be feeling, and how they might help that child—teaching them how to read people’s faces as a way to understand what they’re feeling. As they get older, the curriculum ages with them. In some middle schools, Alexander and Sandahl describe, students have weekly problem-solving sessions, addressing arguments they’re having with each other, or problems they have at home, or situations they encounter at school, like bullying or cliques. They all focus on the same things: Listening to each other, working through problems as a group, and learning from other people’s experiences.

Perhaps most importantly, they learn, from a young age, that being connected socially—and empathetically—to other people is as important as securing a high grade on their exams. They carry this with them beyond the school walls, into adulthood and their communities. It’s like counteractive programming: Yes, survival requires selfishness; but living takes something much harder—generosity.

Needless to say: This does not happen in quite the same way in American schools. And Americans—no big surprise—are less empathetic. In fact, a recent study found that empathy among college students has dropped nearly 40 percent in the United States since the 1980s. Narcissism, on the other hand, is on the rise (and not just among presidential contenders).” by ROXANNE PATEL SHEPELAVY

Read more…


Check out the progress of the growing global Peace Education Movement at Global Campaign for Peace Education’s website:

Global Campaign for Peace.org

“A culture of peace will be achieved when citizens of the world understand global problems; have the skills to resolve conflict constructively; know and live by international standards of human rights, gender and racial equality; appreciate cultural diversity; and respect the integrity of the Earth. Such learning can not be achieved without intentional, sustained and systematic education for peace.” Global Campaign for Peace Education’s campaign statement.

Kids practicing Aikido as part of non-violence training

Kids Practicing Aikido as part of Nonviolence Training

We discovered an interesting article that has studied the ability of non-violence to effect social change, and helps dispel the myth that “nonviolence is a wonderful ideal, but that if one wants to achieve results, violence is the means to choose. Nonviolence, it is said, is the weapon of the weak, to be employed only when violent options seem totally out of reach”.  (Mikhail Lyubansky Ph.D., 2014)

If you’re curious to read more, click on the link below:


(Above Image Source: http://www.aikivision.org/en/atelier/how-can-we-solve-a-conflict-in-non-violent-way/)

Edna-Brewer-Restorative-Justice-Mid School Youth-Circle

Middle School Restorative Justice Circle                                       (Source: http://onews.me/2014/04/circle-talk-at-edna-brewer-middle-school/)

Check out this inspiring article about what Finland is doing to address their bullying problem:

Finland is really good at stopping bullying. Here’s how they’re doing it.

Author: James Gaines
Date: July 1, 2016

Imagine you’re back in middle school or high school. The bell just rang, so you’re walking to your next class, minding your own business.

Then you walk around the corner and see…a student being pushed into some lockers.

What would you do?

Unfortunately, this is a pretty common scene.

About a fourth to a third of all students report that they’ve been bullied in school.

And while a single bad encounter might be easy to brush off, bullying often doesn’t happen just once. For many kids, it’s a long, awful campaign of continual harassment, injury, and exhaustion.

Even the most resilient kids can have trouble dealing with that. And bullying can also cause depression, anxiety, health complaints, and even dropping out of school. It’s not great.

So back to that question: If you saw bullying, what would you do?

Finland has been asking folks this question for a while, and they found that the answer people give is really important.

Finland has one of the most successful education systems in the world, so it’s not surprising that they’ve used this question about bullying to pioneer a brand new and super effective bullying prevention program in schools.

Finland’s anti-bullying program is called KiVa, short for “kiusaamista vastaan,” which means “against bullying.”

KiVa includes many different resources, like tools for teachers and parents and in-classroom lessons. But one of the most interesting aspects is how the program focuses on teaching bystanders what to do if they see bullying. Teachers are not always around, so they can’t always help. But other students often are.

“Our findings are the first to show that the most tormented children — those facing bullying several times a week — can be helped by teaching bystanders to be more supportive,” UCLA professor Jaana Juvonen, said in a press release about a recent analysis of KiVa’s efficacy.

One of the most interesting ways KiVa teaches this bystander empathy is through computer games and simulations.

In one of the games, the kids take control of cartoon avatars that are put in a variety of bullying situations they might encounter in school.

KiVa Computer Animation Screen Shot

KiVa’s Computer Simulations Help Teach Kids Social Awareness

(Image source: http://www.upworthy.com/finland-is-really-good-at-stopping-bullying-heres-how-theyre-doing-it?g=2&c=huf1)

“For instance, they might witness a bullying incident and they have to decide what to do; whether to defend the victim or do something else,” Johanna Alanen, KiVa’s International Project Manager, told Upworthy in an email.

“There are different options on how to defend the victim,” Alanen explained. “Their choices have consequences and lead to new situations.

Basically, the programs are kind of like choose-you-own-adventure stories for bullying, allowing the kids to see what consequences might come from certain actions, all in a virtual setting.

The students are also given advice and feedback about what to say to someone who has been bullied.  “In the game, students can practice how to be nice to someone and what kind of nice things you can say to someone who would like to be included in the group or is new in the school,” said Alanen.

By asking the kids what they would do in certain situations and giving feedback and advice about it, the program can help teach the students to be more empathetic and supportive of bullying victims.

And the data shows that the program works too.

Juvonen’s analysis found that KiVa reduced the odds of a given student being bullied by about one-third to one-half.

That’s huge. And not only that, but early data shows that the program might also help reduce depression and increase self-esteem for kids who have already been bullied.

Now that Finland has adopted KiVa as their national anti-bullying program, it’s being tested other countries too — Italy, the Netherlands, and the U.K. — and it’s being evaluated in the United States.

Bullying is a perennial, awful problem that’s tough to eliminate. And there’s probably never going to be a one-size-fits-all solution.

But programs like KiVa show that even at a young age, empathy is one of the best tools we have to make the world a better place.

Source: http://www.upworthy.com/finland-is-really-good-at-stopping-bullying-heres-how-theyre-doing-it?g=2&c=huf1

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