Thursday, March 19, 2015

Zumbody to love.

courtesy morguefile.com
Today is TWO HUNDRED straight days of blogging on this site.  It started as a dare for a month, and now it's pretty much routine. Are there days that I struggle to write?  Honestly, aside from filtering the negative things that sometimes jump up and down in my mind screaming "Write about US!  Write about US!", I truly don't.  Every day is different in my world -- even when it seems like the schedule was the same as the day two days ago.

So why do I keep at this?

One, very important, reason.  I love my mother.

Empathy

Are schools spending enough time fostering the art of empathy?  Society has become so rote and robotic in its "get it done" approach to life, that there seem to be fewer instances where compassion and empathy are directly addressed.  Sure, there are anti-bullying campaigns, anti-cyberbullying awareness days, and an occasional Random Act of Kindness day encouraged here or there, especially around Thanksgiving when we're all encouraged to be more appreciative.

Daniel Golman's research on the importance of Emotional Intelligence has been around for a decade, and very few educators, other than guidance counselors and teachers of the gifted are even aware of his thesis.  It's fairly easy to embrace his idea of two minds - one rational, and one emotional, especially if you've ever been handed a scribbled picture of who-knows-what by a very proud preschooler.   The book is a fast read, and there are follow-up studies that continue to demonstrate the value of caring, not only for educators, but caring in business settings as well.

Suddenly, the value of empathy is everywhere.  Yes, I know I say that about things I'm thinking about all the time, but here's a perfect example.  The Atlantic recently featured an article about the importance of doctors knowing, and applying, the skill of empathy.  The article outlines special training that some doctors are receiving as part of their medical training, and illustrates the importance of listening skills, compassion, and eye contact.  (By the way, listening with understanding and empathy is also a Habit of Mind...)  Certainly anyone who has been ill, and searching for concrete information, can understand the value of such skills.  In fact, society would probably expect such courtesy.

And as much as we value empathy, it's not something that we share with our children as a core value.  In fact, in a recent study from Harvard University, the message that is being sent to kids these days is that happiness and achievement are more important than caring for others.

I know where I stand, or rather, sit.  Behind a keyboard, for 200 straight days, because somebody that I care about told me that this blog was important to her, and her understanding of what I do in my classroom every day.  Here's hoping that a few more parents set the expectation bar as high as my own Zum, and help to change the world, one random act of kindness at a time.