Center for Building a Culture of Empathy

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Culture of Empathy Builder:  Rick Ackerly

http://j.mp/LrVLWh

Rick Ackerly & Edwin Rutsch: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Education 

Rick is a nationally recognized educator and speaker with 45 years of experience working in and for schools. With a master’s in education from Harvard University, Rick has devoted his career to building thriving learning communities. Author, "The Genius in Children: Bringing out the best in your child"

How to build  culture of empathy?
'Children have empathy; the best way to educate it is to utilize it. All good educators know empathy is one of their greatest abilities, and the origin of some of their greatest passions. Their brains are designed to know how others feel. They are wired with mirror neurons; when someone else is hurt, they feel it. By eighteen months they know that another person might want something different from what they want, and are inclined to give them what they want, rather than what they would choose for themselves.'
 
Sub Conference: Education 

 

 

Links

 

Rick Ackerly & Edwin Rutsch: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Education

 

Transcripts

  • 00:00 Introduction

  • (transcription pending)

  • (Video Transcriptions: If you would like to take empathic action and create a transcription of this video, check the volunteers page.  The transcriptions will make it easier for other viewers to quickly see the content of this video.)

 


How
can we build a culture of empathy/compassion?

The first move is to understand that children have empathy.
They are designed by nature to map the realities of their environment onto their brains—with especial sensitivity to the realities of their social environment.

There have been experiments that show that children naturally want be help—they want to be of value. You can get 2 to 4 year olds to do the dishes if you play your cards right. They notice what adults say, and they notice what they do and try to make sense of it. They are equipped with mirror neurons so that they literally feel what others feel. So the question is not how do we get them to feel what others feel, but what is it that we want them to do with their empathy

create a culture of empathy!!!!
If we want them to behave compassionately, it is best that they detect that compassion is what others feel and that the game everyone is playing is a compassionate game. In my home, for instance, everything literally was a game. We played games with winners and losers. In that environment, my empathy taught me that the feeling of winning was the feeling everyone wanted and therefore, it is what I wanted.

In my schools the strategy was as follows:

Make the environment a safe place to be yourself.
 That meant minimizing all measuring up factors. Making diversity one of the highest values=--at the core of diversity is the concept of uniqueness—you are supposed to be yourself—your own weird, unique, imperfect self.


Social problem solving was understood to be problem solving.
 In Mary Gordon’s video where she talks building the teaching empathy into the curriculum she says something very telling: she says: “This makes the teachers happy because they see that their agenda is being addressed while we teach the counter agenda of care.” Counter agenda!!! That is the core of the problem. In our culture the agenda is measuring up to standards, getting right answers, minimizing wrong answers, etc. The social-emotional agenda is counter-cultural. As long as that is the perception—it will stay counter cultural. I took schools that were in trouble, and revived them by making the social-emotional agenda THE agenda, for that was the context for doing whatever else needed to be done (writing papers, preparing for tests, etc.)


Treat children as if they ARE empathetic naturally and need guidance—just as we all do—in negotiating particular conflicts or social situations. How to treat other people is not a matter of formula, but practice, practice, practice for all of us.
 

 

JUNE 6, 2012 - Thoughtfulness: Engaging Empathy to Build Strong Brains

Helen was playing in the sandbox in the park, when a brawl between a brother and sister broke out near her. Helen looked up from her work to see them arguing over a shovel, knocking each other to the ground. She watched intently for a while then calmly looked around, found two more shovels, and walked over to them. She handed one to the brother and the other to his sister. The fighting stopped, the girl handed Helen the shovel they had been fighting over, and they all went back to playing happily in the sandbox.

 

 

 

APRIL 10, 2012 - Parents and Teachers Building Empathy in Children
"Children have empathy; the best way to educate it is to utilize it. As Beth and all other good educators know, empathy is one of their greatest abilities, and the origin of some of their greatest passions. Their brains are designed to know how others feel. They are wired with mirror neurons; when someone else is hurt, they feel it. By eighteen months they know that another person might want something different from what they want, and are inclined to give them what they want, rather than what they would choose for themselves."


 

April 18, 2012 - To Educate Empathy, Educate Imagination
"Allan’s vignettes are indeed about building empathy because they are about building imagination. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes requires imagination. Others are not thinking and feeling the way you are thinking and feeling; they are thinking and feeling the way they are thinking and feeling. That requires imagination—a lot of it."