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22 March 2019

posted 21 Mar 2019, 18:24 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 21 Mar 2019, 18:24 by Stephanie Williams ]
There is quite a bit of information out there regarding empathy being on the decline and a lack of human to human, face to face interaction often cited as a contributing factor. When I spotted the book “Born for Love - why empathy is essential and endangered” by Maia Szalavitz and Bruce Perry, I considered it a decent camping holiday read and stuck to my goal (amongst a pile of more typical light holiday reads and questionable magazines). It was fascinating. 

We know that social development requires multiple repeated face to face interactions. We also know that the brain becomes what it does. We also know that many aspects of 'modern life' can conspire against children having space and time to develop empathy through the strong ongoing focus on social skills. Now the difference between aspects of this book and our focus at WBS is that the schools focussed almost exclusively on cognitive development. In some of the schools, there were not any playtimes, in fact, play researcher David Elkind believes 40,000 American skills have eliminated playtime altogether. Additionally, structured programmes often fill weekends and after school activities - there can be very little time for free play or chat. Then let's get started on the TVs, mobiles and  video games........(No....... I can't do that!) 

So - it's incredibly important for us to find opportunities to build social skills and a chance to increase empathy. It's that fine line between letting children work through playground trials and tribulations with a little support from afar and not have adults managing everything whilst modelling good negotiating, respect of other views and ways of being and the like. It is also developmental - this "I to We" but together - home and school - let's really make a conscious and deliberate effort to build empathy - and as the authors say - it's essential and also endangered. 

Our Positive Education programme supports this BUT we have to keep it in the pre-frontal cortex, all of us.

PS. I wrote this piece two weeks ago not knowing what tragedy was on the horizon for our country. The subject matter is now more poignant than I ever would have anticipated.