Alternative Education - Babies as teachers
by Jamuna Rangachari
In a truly civil society, every man, woman and child feels a sense of belonging, says Mary Gordon, Founder and President, of the Canadian non profit association, Roots of Empathy.
The organization has formed a unique way of teaching children about emotions and empathy.
The heart of the program is a neighborhood infant and parent, who visit the classroom once a
month for the full school year. Throughout the school year, Roots of Empathy Instructors
conduct 27 visits, 9 of which are family visits. The Instructors are critical to the successful implementation of the program, as they guide the children through the 9-month curriculum, provide support and coaching to the volunteer parent and coordinate with the classroom teacher.
The rationale is that when children understand how others feel, they are less likely to victimize them through bullying. Information on infant safety and development also helps children to be more thoughtful when dealing with infants. Ultimately, they become more competent parents who will be less likely to abuse their children. Put simply, the children, by observing the primitive bond between a young baby and its parents, learn how to recognize others' feelings and ‘empathize’ with others.
The program has met with remarkable success. A significant decrease in aggression and bullying behavior has been observed in schools that bring in "empathy babies" for students to observe: According to a recent study, 88% of children who'd shown aggressive tendencies became more polite after taking a Roots of Empathy course.
Website : www.rootsofempathy.org [External Link]