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Leslie Backkart

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The teaching of kindness, compassion and empathy.

Should our children be taught, without using religion, a defined feeling or emotion in having compassion, empathy and extending kindness onto others? Education to stimulate the mind is great, but stimulate something within their hearts. Children today don't seem to place the shoes of others onto their own feet. I fear we are raising a very unsocial and self motivated, self gratifying generation of children. What are your thoughts?

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    Jul 20 2013: I'm going to assume you mean formal 'teaching' in public schools and not 'teaching' in general, like I would my own children or grandchildren. So therefore public schools are not able to use religion at all anyway. So that would take me to the schools definition and interpretation of "a defined feeling... onto others". So then there are numerous meetings with the community and the school board to set this definition, and then it goes the way of mission and vision statements - a nice poster on the wall in the office to show visitors. Or, civil liberties are eventually adjudicated and the school district is sued. So no, I would say that such moral platitudes should not be taught in public schools as a subject matter, other than through philosophy or history classes which are already offered. And I would also disagree that 'children of today' are unsocial. Through modern technology (internet, texting, cell phones, etc.) they are more talkative then ever - and they are able to communicate with more peers from around the world than ever before. Just like here on TED. Also, what is wrong with self-motivation?
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      Jul 21 2013: Technology for me, has taken away the social interaction of face to face emotion and the sense of reading one's facial expression. Please go a little deeper and use a younger child visually. Thus I foresee a lack of proper social skills based on this. Since the removal from our public schools any teachings based on God, which for many, this meant his lessons, as well as the fear of God or pleasing to God, what is there for them to learn rights from wrongs? I believe kids should not be taught by fear anyway, but rather by what they would like to have done onto them. We have many role models that are living proof of what empathy, kindness and compassion can do for others and can do for the entire well being of mankind. Why not teach this!
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        Jul 25 2013: sorry it's taken so long to respond. I just got back and it seems I have no 'My Conversations' archived. I had to find your original post. I will reply by offering that your definition of emp, kind, comp is not universal and that there is no universal definition. We cannot impose pseudo-religious moral imperatives through the public school system. This is why I referred to the philosophy and history courses already being taught. Your reference to the 'entire well-being of mankind' is defined by your 'God' and 'His' maxims. Please understand that I am sensitive to 'man's inhumanity to man' and that I believe children should be exposed to the social consequences of such inhumanity. But such definitions of 'kindness/compassion/empathy' are impossible to define in such a pluralistic society, and fall outside the responsibilities of public schools. Parents need to give such moralistic value definitions to their children, not public employees. Hope that's 'deep' enough.

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