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Culture of Empathy Builder: Mary Gordon


Roots and Seeds of Empathy
Mary Gordon

Mary Gordon is the Founder, President and the inspiration behind Roots of Empathy and Seeds of Empathy. Mary is recognized internationally as an award-winning social entrepreneur, educator, author, child advocate and parenting expert who has created programs informed by the power of empathy. In 1996 Mary outlined the initial curriculum of Roots of Empathy and began piloting the program in Toronto. In 2000 she established the national and international organization Roots of Empathy,

Mary is author of Roots of Empathy: Changing the World, Child by Child.  She says, "When I talk to city officials,  I speak of the fact that there is fluoride in our water supply to prevent tooth decay.  I tell them we need empathy in the water supply to prevent social decay ."



Mary Gordon founder of 'Roots of Empathy' talks with Edwin about the Importance of Empathy
Your quest for an empathic culture, or a Culture of Empathy as you call it, I think is a great quest. I don't think it's ever to late to develop empathy. It starts so naturally... I think we should do everything that we can to cultivate empathy and we can do it at every level. So why would we not.
Sub Conference: Education


 Mary Gordon founder of 'Roots of Empathy' talks about the Importance of Empathy
    Interviewed by Edwin Rutsch


Mary Gordon Interview

  • Founder of Roots of Empathy

  • It's an organization and a program

  • I believe empathy can't be taught but it can be caught

  • experiential learning is a opportunity to see love happen

  • parent and child is the most exquisite empathy relationship

  • to be attending to the baby is what empathy is

  • 1:40 - definition of empathy?

    • is understanding how another person feels

    • metaphor for empathy - breathing with the same lung as somebody else

    • Is innate, can wither on the vine - adversity

    • Societies responsibility is to hold the parent in the palm of their hand

    • if we take care of parents, they will take care of their children

  • 2:40 - If we want to Build a Culture of Empathy in society?

    • We better start with our families

    • We better show empathy to our families

    • There are two key institutions for influencing this culture

      • First is the family

      • Second is Education

    • Education: generally raising children to be literate contribution citizens

    • Schools have responsibility to help children learn how to relate

  • 3:50 this is part of the work of Roots of Empathy

    • social emotional learning program

    • children learning of emotional literacy

    • a key language for survival

    • a language of connection

    • started in 2000

    • Seeds of Empathy - program for 3-5 years old

    • I was a teacher

  • 5:40 We learn through relationship

    • life is relationship, relationship, relationship

    • children learn more from the relationship with the teacher and child care worker than from the content of instruction

    • it's the construction of the human being not the instruction

    • 3 to 5 year olds should be free to roam and discover

  • 6:40 - created Seeds of Empathy - preschool - it's a peek period of plasticity

    • relationship

    • children learn heart first

    • society not valuing of those that deal with children

  • 8:00 - Empathy is the core trait of human kind

    • it is so important that if we don't have empathy, we'll never have altruism

    • if we don't have empathy we can't get to the first stage of conflict resolution

    • if we don't have empathy we we won't realize that the neighbor, across the mountain, across the continents, are exactly like us

    • that we share the same feelings

  • 8:40 - we may have differences and in the Roots of Empathy we celebrate differences

    • we also look for our shared humanity, which is our feelings

    • Cognitive aspect of empathy is Perspective taking.

    • if you take perspective of the other, you find connection

    • if you learn the language side of you emotions, you have a sure fire combination of skills with those 2 awareness's

  • 9:15 when you work from the mind and heart - you have deep learning

    • that's what we're looking for.

    • we ask, what do you think and what do you feel?

    • children discuss freely and respect what fellow class mates say

    • they are then open to learning - maybe because of Oxytocin

    • we will be doing research on Oxytocin and Cortisol

    • you can't legislate kindness and cooperation

    12:20 - What's a birds eye view of how we can build a culture of empathy?

    • 13:10 starting with children is where you build your basement

    • Justice - expose judges into the genesis of criminal behavior

    • youth crimes, addictions, problems, people who are in prison

    • research show problems start in early childhood development

    • develop insight for the leaders

    • meeting out punishment is not the same as meeting out justice

    • justice

      • has to do with equitable beginnings

      • do we set a place at the table for everyone

    • does everyone have a sense of belonging

    • there are many things we can do in society

      •  Universities

        • influence universities

        • a good place to till the soil

      • Corporate Power

        • corporate social responsibility

        • how do we operate to the workers with empathy

        • are polices reflective of greed or compassion

        • dignity in every job

        • create policies for caring

        • create a caring work society and caring universities

        • we have to create empathy in the workplace

        • develop empathy in the public transit, elderly, etc.

      • 19:30 Media

        • create public service announcements showing empathy

        • show people being kind

        • media has a role to play

      • Schools

        • the adults can treat each other empathically because the children are watching

        • we forget that we are the biggest models of empathy

        • if you are selectively empathic, you are not empathic at all.

      • 20:20 Society in every sector could do a whole lot

        • I'd love to do empathy programs for the health services

        • understand how people feel

        • we treat bodies instead of people

        • we teach minds instead of mind-bodies

        • humanizing all aspects

      • 21:40 Science has a role to play

        • message of relationships

        • we know a lot about how empathy develops

          • we know about mirror neurons

        • media should allow people to understand that they can change the world simply by being empathic.

        • it's one of those contagious things

        • 23:30 it's not  so much the violence that I don't like on tv

          • it's the cruelty, the dehumanizing,

          • where people are put forward as being base

          • Gong Show was disturbing

        • There are wonderful things we can see on media

          • but haven't plumbed the depths of the human heart

          • or capacity for real concern and caring

          • there are a million stories a day that I witness in the class rooms

            •  in Roots of Empathy - small acts of heroism

          • 6 year old helps friend on the ladder

            • one person can tip the entire culture of a play ground

        • 26:24 we are hungry to hear good news about humankind

          • telling the Story that convey stories of empathy

    • 27:00 Edwin story of addressing the generation gap and conflict with empathy

      • 28:00 The thing about understanding how someone's feels doesn't mean you have to agree with them

      • we all need to be understood but it doesn't mean we have to be the same

      • you don't sign up for the evangelical ways of your parents, but it doesn't preclude your enjoying their company and you loving them and excepting them even though they are different

      • the big thing about empathy is that we can appreciate our differences

      • in life, being different has been the cause of bullying, racism, other isms etc

      • when you have empathy you can find the strand of human connection - how the other feels

      • empathy allows you to leap over those differences

    • 29:20 brings tears to my eyes to feel the alienation from people your close to and  being able to connect with them is so meaningful

      • yes, that's something that comes to us with the years

      • years show on our faces but open our hearts

      • we make room for others to have corner of our hearts

      • one of the nice things about aging - the heart gets bigger like an elastic band

      • when we are young we hang out with the same types of people

      • when we get older we can expand our capacity

    • 31:10 maybe baby-boomers are more open to empathy now?

      • was a study that university students of 70's  were more empathic than current students

      • maybe technology is cause of reduced empathy, 

      • if we spend all the time in front of the computer, friendships will suffer

      • clearly empathy is going to drop if we are not in relationship with people

    • 32:45 Obama talked about empathy all the time during his campaign

      • Obama was crucified for mentioning empathy in Sotomayor nomination

      • there's a lot of misunderstanding about what empathy means

      • in that debate there was a complete misunderstanding between empathy and sympathy

      • empathy got a bad rap because it was put out as being a very weak trait

      • an effeminate trait,

      • at least your president put it on the agenda

      • there are a considerable group of Americans who hunger for empathy

      • where people care about one another

      • because empathy is a brake against violence and cruelty

      • empathy stops you from doing things that hurt other people but it's not a guarantee

      • if we can't show empathy in the Supreme Court - understanding - it's a deep concern

      • policy should be fueled by empathy, that's not weakness, that's wiseness

    • 35:45 I think there is a growing appetite for empathy, at least in Canada, EU

      • if the European Union thinks empathy is a path to peace, that's a political statement

      • it's a political debate about what we do with our children

    • 37:00 How far along are we on the path to create a culture of empathy?

      • there are different societies, independent societies are less empathic than interdependent  societies

      •  independent societies have a harder job being empathic because we don't think of ourselves collectively

      • within North America there are different groups

      • we've lost our neighborhoods

      • 39:20 a lot of people live in isolation and loneliness

      • there's an ocean of lonely elderly people - that's inexcusable

      • the stage of the continuum... as long as were asking the question, I'm happy

      • I wouldn't accuse us of being an empathic society, but at least we're aware.

      • North America has amazingly empathy with tragedies

      • but what about the tragedy of the person living next door in loneliness

      • when you have empathy, you understand what loneliness is

      • empathy is at the heart for altruism

    • 41:15 There's a pandemic of loneliness

      • what's the use of solving the environment and economic problems if we live in a failed society

      • because we are a failed society if we don't help the vulnerable

      • the sick, the old, the young

      • I think loneliness is a crime

      • it takes so little effort

      • when people are in pain, when we don't create an inclusive society, we should be in pain

      • When you have empathy you are driven to do something about what you feel

    • 42:25 the importance of touch

      • the importance of touch

      • if you haven't been well loved it's hard to love well

      • we demonstrate love with our babies

      • we have undervalued the importance of touch

      • studies of babies in Albanian orphanages - minimal touch - starved for touch

      • the brain shrinks without touch

      • babies grow faster when they feel touch

      • we focus so much on the cognitive and have forgotten that we are human beings

    • 48:20 a metaphor for the opposite of empathy?

      • a single bird on a wire

      • a Leonard Cohen song

      • no flock around, above and beyond the world

      • it's hard to enjoy anything when you don't have someone to share it with

      • it's hard to know who you are - generally speaking we define ourselves in relationship to others

    • 49:16  Your quest for an empathic culture, or a Culture of Empathy as you call it, I think is a great quest. I don't think it's ever to late to develop empathy. It starts so naturally I think we should do everything that we can to cultivate empathy and we can do it at every level. So why would we not.



Podcast: Empathy: Your children learn from what they see in you


Mary Gordon is an educator and the founder of ‘Roots of Empathy’ and ‘Seeds of Empathy’, two revolutionary educational programs based on the development of empathy and in nurturing emotional literacy from early childhood. According to Mary Gordon, “many of the problems afflicting society, like violence and poverty, are rooted in a lack of empathy.”


The Decade of Empathy (Mary Gordon)
Nov 7, 2016


"What we count and measure reflects our values as a society. Roots of Empathy, an evidence-based classroom programme expands children’s capacity to understand and include the other. It is a pedagogy of hope which counters society’s spiritual flatness and apathy. The children learn through coached observations of a visiting infant and parent how to understand the emotions of a vulnerable baby. Finding the humanity in the baby allows them to find the humanity in themselves; a bridge to finding the humanity in others."

  • babies communicate through their feelings

  • emotional literary - having the names for your feelings

  • talking about feelings

  • babies learn in context with their feelings

  • learning to read is good, but we need to learn to relate

  • 9:00 in the class children can talk about their feelings

  • a generation the can't regulate their emotions


Video: Empathizing with Paul Bloom's Case Against Empathy - Mary Gordon & Edwin Rutsch
Mary Gordon is the Founder, President and the inspiration behind Roots of Empathy & Seeds of Empathy.
More about
Paul Bloom's Case Against Empathy

Roots of Empathy Research Symposia:
Roots of Empathy values the lens of research as the organization continues to provide empathy-based programming to children on three continents. The Roots of Empathy Research Symposia offer engaging and thought-provoking research presentations from world renowned international scientists. 



D.C. classrooms welcome babies in effort to teach empathy By Emma Brow
"The program, called Roots of Empathy, was conceived nearly two decades ago in Toronto and has since become common across Canada. Now it has been imported to the United States, amid growing concern about classroom bullying and growing conviction that teaching certain character traits — such as persistence, self-control and self-confidence — is just as crucial for students’ futures as teaching academics."


[KDI] Mary Gordon - Panel Discussion: Session 6 "Closing Discussion - 2010

[KDI] Mary Gordon "정감의 뿌리(Roots of Empathy)"


Love, Hate & Everything In Between: A film on empathy -- chapter 2/13
" Roots of Empathy founder Mary Gordon demonstrates how empathy can be taught through a classroom programme she developed for primary school children. Gordon feels empathy helps us connect to one another and if children don't learn to do that we will not be able to solve the huge, intractable social problems that face society today. "

Mary Gordon: The Roots of Empathy
Empathy is second nature: Mary Gordon's organization aims to tackle the bullying problem by increasing
empathy and reducing aggressiveness in school-aged children. She joins Steve Paikin




Roots of Empathy: Video Introduction
Introducing Roots of Empathy, an award-winning charitable organization that brings empathy-based (and evidence-based) programming to children


  • What is the Roots of Empathy program?

    • program that leads to more caring

    • bring in a family and baby

    • see how baby reacts to the world and in turn learn about themselves

    • learn about temperament of baby - learn about their own traits

    • teaches emotional literacy - identifying feelings and giving them names

    • teaches problem solving - problem with the baby and with own relationships

  • Value of inclusion

  • See care happening - see how others are feeling

    • building a caring classroom

  • Caring brings in other parts of curriculum

    • The arts

      • Literature opens the doors to feelings.

      • drawings

    • Mathematics

  • Build community - positive connections

  • Encourage responsibility

  • Encourage caring individuals and caring civil society


The Yellow Brick Road to Empathy: Mary Gordon at TEDxGabriolaIslan

"Mary Gordon is recognized internationally as an award-winning social entrepreneur, educator, author, child advocate and parenting expert who has created programs informed by the power of empathy. In 2000 Gordon established the national and international organization Roots of Empathy, which now offers programs in every province of Canada, New Zealand, the USA, the Isle of Man, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland, and Germany.

Gordon's talk The Yellow Brick Road to Empathy shows the major role that empathy plays in dissolving the borders that separate us and allow us to deem one group or an individual to be less human. Empathy allows us to understand difference and recognize that our emotions are universal and connect us. This is something that children do through a tiny baby in Roots of Empathy classes. Gordon goes on to demonstrate how the 'Empathy Deficit' will be interrupted as children develop the capacity to perspective take and as they develop emotional literacy."

  • Story of the boy helping on the slide.

  • Empathy Deficit

  • About the Roots of Empathy program

  • Children's Drawings

  • Children feeling like they belong

  • Importance of emotional literacy

    • reduces conflict

  • learn to name your feelings

  • see the humanity of others


Bringing Babies to the Classroom to Teach Empathy, Prevent Bullying

"Roots of Empathy, first started in 1996 in Toronto and introduced into U.S. schools in 2007, aims to build more peaceful and caring societies by increasing the level of empathy in children. In the last six years, the program has spread to California, New York and other parts of Washington.

Some teachers at the school, including Pearson, say they were initially nervous about the safety of the babies in classrooms full of students."






Jan 18, 2013 - Radio: Teaching Social and Emotional Learning | KQED Forum


"Oakland schools have launched programs to help students manage their emotions, establish positive relationships and resolve conflicts. One of the programs, Roots of Empathy, brings infants and their mothers into school to help students recognize emotions and experience empathy. We discuss the social and emotional learning movement, which aims to teach fundamental life skills in schools, and how it's being used in Oakland."



 Roots of Empathy's Impact - Greater Good Science Center (GGSC)
"Mary Gordon discusses the research showing that Roots of Empathy reduces aggression, boosts emotional literacy, and creates more caring children."




Tiny Teachers -  (GGSC)
"Mary Gordon describes how babies can foster emotional connection and emotional literacy in the classroom."




Our Common Humanity -  (GGSC)

"Mary Gordon discusses how caring for a baby helps children find the humanity in themselves and others."



Emotional Literacy -  (GGSC)
"Mary Gordon shares inspiring stories about children performing remarkable acts of compassion."




Meet Baby Mei -  (GGSC)
"Mary Gordon shows a Roots of Empathy classroom and baby in action, explaining how together they help break cycles of intergenerational violence."






The Agenda with Steve Paikin: Mary Gordon: The Roots of Empathy

Empathy is second nature: Mary Gordon's organization aims to tackle the bullying problem by increasing empathy and reducing aggressiveness in school-aged children. She joins Steve Paikin.



2011-06-11 TEDxGoldenGateED - Mary Gordon



Speaker Series - Mary Gordon: Exploring the Roots of Empathy

  • For me war is the extreme example of the failure of empathy

  • the holocaust was probably the worlds most dramatic examples of the lack of empathy

  • gone to moon but haven't yet explored the depths of the heart

  • how do we connect to one another

  • had  many movements

    • civil rights

    • woman's movements

    • gay rights

    • time has come to consider children's rights'

  • how does early childhood effect good outcomes

  • moral future rests in the children

  • a revolution of little children

  • 3:00 not good enough to think of children as social capital in the making

    • children have value in the moment

    • are developing their capacity to care..

  • 4:00 Seeds of Empathy for child care centers

    • improving how we help them

    • community to support the family

  • 7:00 Seeds of Empathy

    • respecting the child for who they are

    • give them what they need not what they want

  • 9:00 Process of program

    • watching the baby

    • children talking about the baby

    • loneness, pandemic of loneliness

  • 10:50 who am I? ways of talking about it

    • full of pride and love

    • showing some drawings

  • 20:00 research on Roots of Empathy

    • aggression decreases

    • exclusion - broken heart

    • there's an armada of broken hearts in every classroom

  • 21:00 give children voice - just naming your feeling reduces the level of cortisol associated with the negative feeling

    • we are not doing social work

    • we are helping children to understand

    • without empathy there will be no altruism

    • without empathy you cannot get to the first stage of conflict resolution

    • without empathy you cannot be a good parent

  • 22:00 in Roots of Empathy - mirror neurons do their job

    • drawings of children

    • in 80 percent of bullying situations there are onlookers and they do nothing

    • Roots of Empathy stand up

    • story of the fear and the slide

    • you can do something about it when there's unfairness






Dec 03, 2010 - Seed of Compassion - Roots of Empathy (Berkeley, CA)
Greater Good Science Center - Seminar,  UC Berkeley - Dacher Keltner, Mary Gordon
Day long seminar will offer strategies for cultivating compassion, empathy, and resilience in yourself and others.


CNN: Babies go to school to teach - Article and Video
The baby's visit is the heart of a program called Roots of Empathy -- a course that is proving to be an effective tool in reducing aggression in schoolchildren. "The real importance of understanding how you feel and others feel really helps children navigate every social relationship in their lives," said Mary Gordon, founder of Roots of Empathy.


Your Voice: The Importance of Teaching Kids Empathy
We talk to experts to find out how to develop this crucial trait in children.


  • Empathy - our ability to feel and understand other's behaviors and care about them

  • Some education experts say that empathy may be more important in the classroom than reading, writing and arithmetic.

  • It promotes good behavior, problem solving, and reduces bullying

  • How can we promote empathy?

  • Can it be learned?

  • Is it ever to late to learn empathy?

  • Guests

    • Mary Gordon: Roots of Empathy

    • Stan Baker: Educator and Restorative Practices.

  • (01:25) What is empathy?

    • Putting yourself in the shoes of others.

    • there's an empathy deficit and cause of many problems

  • (01:50) How would you describe empathy?

    • how other person feels and care about them

  • How different from sympathy?

    • is more narrow and feeling sorry for, not as deep as empathy

  • (02:15) Stan I how do you see it in the school?

    • It is walking in the shoes

    • also, listening to someone, and reciprocal listening

  • Some examples?

    • a class with bullying - was negative class energy

    • used circles -

    • students stepped up to bullying

  • (04:10) -  Are children naturally empathic?

    • They are born with the capacity - fostered

    • Sometimes it's socialized away

      • adversity

      • if aren't encouraged to think of others

      • if no examples of empathy to them

  • What is value of empathy?

    • it's core human trait

    • without empathy can't have meaningful relationships - friendship

    • understand the other

    • friends help

    • puts break on aggression

    • first stage of conflict resolution - take perspective of the other

  • (06:15) - Questions about empathy from parents

  • Parents worry when kinds do mean things?

    • need to help children understand the effect

    • from me to us centered

    • talk to child

    • find ways to fix things to make it right

  • (08:10) What if the schools is like that? (bullying)

    • story of bulling and running shoes - friend stood up and wore shoes

    • need to learn empathy when not stressed

  • (10:15) Describe Roots of Empathy

    • kindergarten to grade 8

    • witnessing attachment relationship

    • relationship is most powerful manifestation of empathy

    • witnessing and discussion

    • baby is a leaver - entry point

    • reflection, agents of change

    • emotional literacy - labeling emotions

    • sharing with classmates - there's an epidemic of loneliness.

  • (11:45) Tell an amazing Story?

    • older child failed class

    • mother was murdered

    • foster care

    • held baby - do you think if no one loved you, you could be a good father

  • (14:00) Restorative Practices? how does it work?

    • a continuum and process

    • how has it affected you?

    • conflict, taking turns to talk

    • non judgmental

    • whose been affected and in what way?

    • how to make it right?

  • (18:00) Results?

    • less suspensions

    • it's about adults too

  • (18:50) Parent:  I don't think empathy can be taught in school, it's from parents, firm tone, loving.

    • what is role of parent

    • empathy is born at home

    • can not be taught but caught

    • you have to experience it.

    • we brought the home to the classroom

  • (20:25) What if parents are not empathic people?

    • Do be judgment

    • Breaking negative cycles

    • Common denominator of problems is lack of empathy

    • they can develop empathy by seeing it modeled

    • like truth and reconciliation of Tutu

  • (21:30) Empathy more important than 3r, how does it effect academic?

    • A safe learning environment

    • learning takes place in context of strong relationship

    • studies show: social and emotional understanding at grade 3 is better indicator of grade 8 mathematical success. understanding to work collaborative

    • Empathy is core of all prosocial behavior

  • (23:30) Stan:

    • use circle processes - turn taking in conversation

    • in North America conversations are competitions for air time

    • I'm not listening to you I'm wait for my chance to speak

    • need to slow it down

    • what do you think about this and how does it effect you and others?

  • (26:00) Is it ever to late?

    • never

    • a teaching opportunity -learn thought loving relationships

    • perspective taking

    • sharing your own feeling gives emotional literacy

Preschoolers and Empathy


  • Video of children in conflict and having empathy

  • take care of yourself and others

  • not the telling but the showing that has impact

  • learning empathy by osmosis - it's not taught it's caught

  • see it empathy

  • what is empathy?

    • understanding how others feel

  • need opportunities to take perspective of others

  • basic human trait for: relationships, friendships,

  • it's mood matching

  • do you have to much empathy?

    • healthy emotional development

    • can also enjoy the positive emotions

    • can put emotions into perspective

  • How do you develop it?

    • role of coach

    • show how your thinking

  • The more words you use to show how your feeling

    • more words to can have to explain yourself

  • What's importance of empathy growing up?

    • need empathy to effective parenting

    • make and keep friends

    • can advance in workplace

    • can build a team

    • better academic success

    • criminal behavior

    • a break  against aggression

    • for sustainable peace



'Roots of Empathy' program helps reduce bullying K5HD
(Short news program about Roots of Empathy. Says a long term study shows the program has positive social effects over the long-term.)

"A program called Roots of Empathy at Washington schools is meant to teach compassion and reduce bullying. Monthly visits with a baby help students develop social skills, learn to express feelings, and recognize others' needs. Trained instructors teach infant safety and development. And students learn to read a baby's cues."

2010-11-30 - Empathy initiative aims to double programmes

The classroom-based Roots of Empathy programme, founded by internationally-recognised educator Mary Gordon and involving classroom visits from a mother and her baby showing young children about caring for and nurturing infants, has been running for a year in Rotorua.

 2010-06-10 - 100+ Roots of Empathy babies and their parents celebrated
"Roots of Empathy is about supporting children and nurturing kindness. Our students are privileged to take part in such a wonderful program. The Ministry of Education is proud to support an initiative that fosters emotional literacy - creating more welcoming and caring classroom environments." Nearly 3,350 children in Toronto and 18,000 in Ontario participated in the program in 2009-10 with the support of the Government of Ontario.


2010-05-24 - Maia Szalavitz - Kindness 101
When kids are able to watch an interaction that's empathic, empathy isn't just being taught; it's being demonstrated," says Dr. Daniel Siegel, a clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA. ROE is unique, he notes, because it "combines the direct observation of babies and their mothers, weekly time devoted to talking about the internal world of mind and watching a baby grow up over time." Among the program's many big-name fans: the Dalai Lama, who has twice appeared publicly with Gordon and thinks ROE can help spur world peace.

Although human nature has historically been seen as fundamentally selfish, social neuroscience suggests otherwise. Researchers are finding that empathy is innate in most humans, as well as in some other species. Chimps, for instance, will protest unfair treatment of others, refusing to accept a treat they have rightfully earned if another chimp doing the same work fails to get the same reward.

2009-11-24- Amanda Jeffery - Planting the seeds
The Early Childhood Development Centre is helping children express their feelings at a younger age thanks to a program called Seeds of Empathy.
Like Roots of Empathy, a program already offered in several schools in the Drayton Valley area, Seeds of Empathy brings babies into the classroom to interact with the children. Through this interaction the children learn how to empathize with others.

2009-09-13 - Article - Baby steps toward a more peaceful world
Mary Gordon wants to change humanity by rewiring a child's brain — one child at a time. A noble idea, but is it possible? Whether she is speaking on a panel with the Dali Lama or to students at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, Gordon's theme is the same: the world will be a better place if children grow up understanding the other's perspective. There will be no more genocides, no more wars, no more racism or violence, she declares. She has built what she believes is a road map to achieve a kinder, gentler humanity.  But it wasn't until she came up with her Roots of Empathy program, an offshoot of her parenting and literacy work, that she began to see how a simple idea could transform the world. Her book, Roots of Empathy: Changing the World Child by Child, has just been published in the United States, following publication here four years ago. It was a Canadian bestseller, winning praise from the likes of Fraser Mustard and Michael Fullan of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Since then she has won the endorsement of the Dali Lama, who has embraced her program as a way to build world peace. Gordon spoke on a panel with the Dali Lama in both Vancouver and Seattle in 2006 and 2008.

Teaching kids to care about others: Experts are divided as to whether empathy is innate, learned or both

 Chris Zdeb, Edmonton Journal

The Roots of Empathy, a national and international organization whose mission is to build caring, peaceful and civil societies through development of empathy in children and adults, uses babies in classrooms to achieve its goal. A parent and baby visit once every three or four weeks through the baby's first year. Carolyn Parkes, provincial manager for Seeds of Empathy in Alberta, a program aimed at children in preschools and day cares, says the program uses babies "as a lever for discussions about social and emotional concepts."

2009-12-22 - Article - Video - Learning for Life: Teaching your child empathy towards others
Linda Filley-Bentler from the Roots of Empathy program explains how teaching your children how to feel compassion will help their emotional development.



2009-05-29 - Babies teaching empathy

The youngest teachers in Western Washington are being honored for teaching empathy by "cooing and crawling." KING 5's Mimi Jung has a look at the "Roots of Empathy" program.





2010-01-09 - Article - Roots of Empathy founder will speak in Langley
The woman who created one of the most successful programs to encourage children to understand and demonstrate empathy will be the guest speaker at Seeds of Success later this month. Mary Gorton, an internationally recognized educator, advocate for children and expert on parenting, is the founder of Roots of Empathy and Seeds of Empathy, two groundbreaking programs which help in children’s development.


2010-02-18  - Mary Gordon - Empathic Civilization': Building A New World One Child At A Time
We are building our world on a social fault line where we have failed to realize the greatest minds alone will not solve social problems. We also need great hearts at the table. "The Empathic Civilization" shines light on evidence from neuroscience that shows human nature is empathic. The basis for solving all of the problems we face is empathy. If homo empathicus can get that right, we allow for the viability of our physical and social universe.

And yet our ecosystems are withering on the vine without empathic input from a globalized, interconnected, citizenry. We may be on the verge of the Age of Empathy, but we still have a long journey ahead. In fact, I would argue that we are in still in our infancy, and that we live in an emotionally illiterate North America.


Other videos to sort:

International Literacy Day at the United Nations on 8 Sept 2010 Mary Gordon

Roots of Empathy


Dawson @ Roots of Empathy - Kisses for Baby Clarke



Roots Farewell




Roots of Empathy Visit # 5.MPG


First Local May 7.2010



SES08 - Breakthrough Social Entrepreneurs Look to the Future

  • At 26:45  Mary Gordon, Roots of Empathy

  • emotional literacy and Roots of Empathy

    • why does it work?

    • what do we learn

    • what can we generalize

  • An evidence based school program

    • raises social and empathy competence

    • raises level of empathy

  • Students watch the babies development

    • in Canada, USA, New Zealand

    • capacity issues

    • research base

  • 29:00 Mary started out as a school teacher

    • learned life is not fair

    • list of problems

    • common denominator of problems is the lack of empathy

    • universal program to observe the attachment process with baby and mother.

  • 31:50 empathy is something your born with but withers on the vine if life is vicious

    • to observe loving relationship

    • working with many people in community

    • teachers, parents, governments, etc,

    • funding

    • keep score

  • 33:40  Research and evaluation

  • 35:00 video of Roots of Empathy

  • 37:30 children developing a literacy of their feelings from observing the babies feelings

    • observation and reflecting

    • bridge to empathy is understand how the other feels

    • emotional literacy is neglected in the schools

  • 39:00 what are the teachers learning

    • we don't praise - it's a positive judgment

    • respect and inclusion - all children speak

    • children find their voice

  • 42:00 education is not big risk takers

    • 43:55 - empathy is core to

      • Altruism,

      • first step to conflict resolution - taking perspective of the other

      • The core is empathy

      • come together by understanding the feelings

      • the children are up for it

  • 46:30 Roots of Empathy is bringing the community into the school



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