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Sat Mar 30, 2013, 07:56 PM

Bringing Babies to the Classroom to Teach Empathy, Prevent Bullying

SEATTLE -- In Laurie Pearson's kindergarten classroom at Lake Forest Park Elementary, students stand at attention. Pearson knows the silence won't last long and that she needs to be quick with her instructions.

"Everyone must wash your hands," Pearson says, "because baby Claire will be here soon."

The 20 or so kindergartners are already well acquainted with Claire, a seven-month-old infant who visits the classroom regularly as part of the social and emotional learning program Roots of Empathy.

Roots of Empathy, first started in 1996 in Toronto and introduced into U.S. schools in 2007, aims to build more peaceful and caring societies by increasing the level of empathy in children. In the last six years, the program has spread to California, New York and other parts of Washington.

Some teachers at the school, including Pearson, say they were initially nervous about the safety of the babies in classrooms full of students.

"I thought they were crazy," Pearson said, "but it was just amazing to see the kids respond and light up."

Roots of Empathy instructor Marilyn Enloe visits the classroom 27 times over the course of the year and for nine of those visits baby Claire will be there as well with her mother, Jenny Fitzpatrick. It's Enloe's job to help students observe the baby's development and to label Claire's feelings.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2013/03/using-babies-to-decrease-aggression-prevent-bullying.html


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Reply Bringing Babies to the Classroom to Teach Empathy, Prevent Bullying (Original post)
MrScorpio Mar 2013 OP
surrealAmerican Mar 2013 #1
SalviaBlue Mar 2013 #2
Number23 Mar 2013 #3
laundry_queen Mar 2013 #4

Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sat Mar 30, 2013, 08:01 PM

1. Good idea ...

... and it appears they have studies that show the value of this approach.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sat Mar 30, 2013, 08:29 PM

2. Interesting

Thanks for posting

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sat Mar 30, 2013, 08:38 PM

3. Such a lovely idea. The UN and other orgs have alot of information on teaching human rights

in primary schools as well. I personally think it's a great idea to get people to start thinking about human rights as young as possible, and not when they're 25 year old law students/activists.

If I could find a school that focuses on empathy/compassion combined with a focus on world history (not just European) and human rights, I'd put my kids there in a minute. No matter where it was.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sat Mar 30, 2013, 08:45 PM

4. My daughter's class went through this program

They followed the baby and the development throughout the year. I believe that cultivating empathy in youth is the best way to overcome so many of the challenges in society today and I'm very glad my daughter's class participated (this was in Canada about 5 years ago or so). It's something I normally do with my kids all the time, but there are plenty of kids who are never shown empathy and so never learn to feel it, which is why the program is such a great idea.

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