I finally gave up on trying to get work done last night at around midnight. Staring blankly at the screen as I tried to write about sleeping better while trying not to fall asleep wasn’t working. I shut down and wandered into the living room.
My hubby was winding down for bed by watching a news program on PBS. It was about education, and a story about Roots of Empathy was on.
Roots of Empathy is a program in which parents bring their baby into a classrooms between kindergarten and grade 8, so the kids can learn how to connect with someone who’s just learning how to use their bodies. The students are taught how to observe what the infant is feeling and the stages of development.
The theory is that, through this education, kids learn how to look at the world and the behavior of others with a deeper understanding of the person’s emotions. They can connect more easily, and therefore be less likely to become bullies.
It seems to be pretty successful in schools that have used it. It’s actually being in used in multiple countries, including Germany, Canada, and the UK.
The below video is an example of a visit to a sixth grade class. Very cute baby, but I really liked how the entire class was encouraging him to roll over.
The program was started in Canada in 1997, so there has been time to get some information about how well it worked in some schools.
The premise is very proactive, which is what I think should be the approach taken to issues like bullying. If you stop to think about it, any type of abuse is a symptom of a larger problem. Nothing happens within a vacuum, after all.
This emotional education also enhances academic education, because when a kid can feel safe in their learning environment, they can put more energy towards actually learning what they need to.
The fact that the kids were so interested in actively helping the baby is also an encouraging thing to see, because that urge could transfer into later life.
What seems to be missed in much of the prevalent western culture is that we, as a species, are social creatures. Part of being social is the need to help each other out when we need it, and the earlier that lesson is ingrained in the next generation, the more hope there is for the future.
This relates to bullying, because the element of control is taken out of the social equation. When we’re all considered equal, instead of sticking to a strict hierarchy of worth, there’s no need to control one another through violence or manipulation.