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Roots of Empathy
Changing the World Child by Child

Gordon, Mary
Publisher:  Thomas Allen Publishers, Toronto, Canada
Year Published:  2007  
Pages:  264pp   Price:  $19.95   ISBN:  0-88762-278-X
Library of Congress Number:  HQ769.G67 2007   Dewey:  372'0114
Resource Type:  Book

Roots of Empathy looks at eliminating crime and changing the world by starting with a compassionate environment for children.

Abstract:  Roots of Empathy looks at eliminating crime and changing the world by starting with a compassionate environment for children. It combines social sciences with emotional support. Deeply based on scientific understanding of the human condition, the book describes a program that has changed the lives of aggressive children and given them the self-confidence to develop better social skills. Children in this program are taught in a classroom that explores how to build and maintain relationships, and learning focuses around a baby that will be observed for a period of a year to see how it develops. It is difficult for children to understand that things exist while they are not being directly perceived, but the development of a young infant is easy to track and can only be attributed to its growth outside of the classroom.

The book claims that empathy needs to be taught to children who grow up in unsupportive households, and that on a grand scale this will lower crime rates. Crime involves a lack of compassion for others, which should have been developed at a young age. Gordon explains not only why empathy should be taught to children, but also how this can be done. "The Roots of Empathy classroom is creating citizens of the world - children who are developing empathetic ethics and a sense of responsibility."

The importance of empathy in the world is stressed in the early chapters of Gordon's book. She draws upon world issues as examples of how atrocities are committed by people who cannot possibly care about other human beings. Many connections are made between how children interact and their future development. Issues such as bullying, domestic violence at home, and exclusion from social groups are analyzed for their effect on children as they grow into adults. The children in the Roots of Empathy program are taught about these things and instructed on how to counter them. "These are the children who will build a more caring, peaceful, and civil society, child by child."

[Abstract by Mia Manns]

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