To be able to teach children about empathy one has to get them to understand that the world doesn’t revolve around them. They need to know that everyone has problems, insecurities and sensitivities. Children that struggle to show empathy can get self obsessed and insular.
That’s why I am surprised that some have confused caring for a totally dependant baby, to the understanding that their fellow classmate has problems too. A young baby is simply not threatening. They are cute, fun to play with and a great distraction for any classroom. I don’t understand how caring for a baby has any bearing on a child’s capacity to feel the pain of a classmate:
Babies are set to be brought into primary schools in Cardiff to help improve pupils’ empathy levels and help reduce any bullying and aggression.
The scheme, pioneered in Canada, encourages children to interact in a nurturing manner after observing a parent and baby in the classroom.
Reports suggest children who have taken part are more likely to help others, share, and accept peers as they are.
The programme is being run by the charity Action for Children (AfC).
Around 2,000 school children will take part in Roots of Empathy, as the scheme is known, which will see a local parent and young baby visit their school nine times over the course of a school year.
Debra Ennis, the charity’s children’s services manager, said the project had been running very successfully in Scotland for two years and a Big Lottery Fund grant had enabled them to bring it to Wales.
“We chose Cardiff as we have a really good relationship with the local authority and already run some programmes here.
“The results in Scotland have been amazing. I was a bit sceptical at first – babies going into classrooms – but the turnaround in behaviour in children’s classrooms and drop in anti-social behaviour has been amazing.
I think this program has some value when it comes to fostering maturity and social skills, but I just don’t understand how you can teach empathy for classmates by bringing in babies to the classroom.