A recent contest asked for the best ways to teach empathy. It received more than 600 submissions. Is this evidence of an empathy movement in education?
That idea has been building momentum. President Obama consistently advocated empathy during his 2008 presidential campaign and famously said it was one of his criteria for a Supreme Court justice. Over the past few years, several big books have argued for the critical importance of empathy in the world today, perhaps most notably Jeremy Rifkin’s The Empathic Civilization, which Ariana Huffington championed on the Huffington Post, writing, “Empathy is the one quality we most need if we’re going to survive and flourish in the 21st century.” At the same time, some researchers have uncovered evidence that empathy is on the decline in the United States, though in recent years, other scientists have identified empathy’s genetic basis and its ability to help us overcome differences.
By Stacey Kennelly