Editor, Townsman:

How do we teach empathy in schools?

Public education provides the most effective place to increase understanding, compassion, empathy and kindness in our society. Children develop their beliefs early in life and carry them with them to adulthood.

For the most part, our schools have failed to include social-emotional learning in traditional education. Since public education is the foundation of our democracy and the caldron of the melting pot, schools must incorporate social-emotional learning, empathy, compassion and citizenship.

If we fail to do this, we miss an opportunity to have a profound impact on the kind of world that our children will live in.

I believe that public school education provides us with the most effective place to teach empathy and compassion. By providing a nurturing environment and proper learning activities, educators can prevent students from becoming addicted to harmful substances; prevent teenagers from committing suicide while developing positive self-awareness; encourage teamwork and cooperation; improve teenagers’ self-esteem and develop their leadership skills.

We believe that by incorporating real life experiences and authentic projects for students, we will have a lasting, positive effect on their self-image and understanding of others.

Dr. Arthur P. Ciaramicoli said: “Empathetic connections change our brain chemistry and make us happy and secure. When we give and receive, we produce the magical neurochemical oxytocin. Oxytocin reduces anxiety, inflammation and addictive cravings, while increasing trust, generosity, calmness and a sense of well-being. It also protects against heart disease, and aids in recovery from illness.”

Richard Trotta

Director

Center for Citizenship and Social Responsibility

Andover 

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