Mary Gordon

Mary Gordon

Former kindergarten teacher Mary Gordon started Roots of Empathy to reduce childhood aggression by teaching students emotional literacy and fostering the development of empathy, as well as social and emotional competence.

Exit dialog mode

Looks like we’re going to have to reschedule our chat with Mary Gordon. Hoping she’ll be able to join us later this week. For now, we are recording a Google+ Hangout with empathy practitioners and Activating Empathy winners Changing Worlds, No Bully, and Sports for Sharing (changemakers.com/empathy). Post a question today!

Have questions for empathy experts? Post them here by Tuesday at 3pm EST and watch their responses via Google+ Hangout (video recording) on Wednesday.

  1. 803 days ago

    Leah Breen

    I agree that all humans are innately empathetic and that empathy can be fostered through education. However, our world is huge and diverse. I’d like to hear Mary’s thoughts on how approaches to, and techniques for, building empathy skills in a school setting may differ depending on different demographics and specific cultural contexts.



  2. 804 days ago

    Edwin Rutsch

    I invite you to see my hour long interview with Mary Gordon at
    http://j.mp/LDeQli

    My question is; What ideas do you have for how we can build a global movement for rising the value of empathy in all parts of society and the world culture? What are the bullet points of how to do that?

    “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.” Mary Gordon

    Warmly

    Edwin Rutsch
    Center for Building a Culture of Empathy
    http://cultureofempathy.com



    • Leah Breen

      I think that your question of how to build a global movement is very relevant to today’s world. Information, ideas, and knowledge are spreading at a faster speed and people throughout the world can connect in many different ways and much more easily than two decades ago. How can we use globalization as a tool to create a world-wide culture of empathy?

      803 days ago


  3. 809 days ago

    Gyälten Sangpo

    “We’ve bought into the idea that education is about training and “success”, defied monetarily rather than learning to think critically and to challenge. We should not forget the true purpose of education. It reminds us to make or minds, not careers. A culture that does not grasp the vital interplay between morality and power, which mistakes management techniques for wisdom, which fails to understand that the measure of a civilization is its compassion, not its speed or ability to consume, condemns itself to death.” -Chris Hedges, shared with me by George “Sulu” Takei.



  4. 810 days ago

    Ari Cowan

    Directing empathy toward children, victims of disasters, and those experiencing loss is one thing. Directing it toward divisive politicians, predatory business leaders, rogue police officers, those convicted of crimes, terrorists, and tyrants is something altogether different. Or is it? What does empathy have to do with these people? What do you think?



    • Gyälten Sangpo

      I believe empathy is applicable so far as seeing they are ignorant to the problems they create for others, and ultimately themselves because they are blinded by attachment and grasping, ego, and greed.

      809 days ago


  5. 810 days ago

    Mathew Emery

    I am a parent of two children, 10 and 11. Bringing deeper empathy into my actions/words with my children, wife, and father is an area where I am looking to grow. My Mother, C. Joy, passed away recently; I think she was my greatest teacher of empathy. I am needing to bring empathy especially for my own emotions and my father’s emotions during this time of completion. I would welcome suggestions on resources for bringing empathy to times of grieving. It seems so easy for sadness and fear to convert to anger. If it is like this for me, someone who has plenty of food, shelter, friends, and opportunity, what is it like for others with additional stresses of survival? My mother committed that her dying would contribute to others. I am speaking up on her behalf to ask for assistance from the community in learning to grieve “prosperously” as Mom once put it to a friend. If I can learn, I can pass it on. Thanks, M.



    • Ari Cowan

      Your observations are insightful and important. So many of us have faced loss and we can’t help but struggle to reconcile what has happened. How does one find respite from the pain, the incomprehensible, the bleakness? In such circumstances, we anger, resentment, bitterness, withdrawal, and distraction are powerfully seductive. But, in the end, these don’t serve us. As Carl Rogers said, the way out is through. It’s here that courage is required — the courage to engage the pain and offer up deep and abiding self-empathy. Clearly, your comments are a superb example of courageous engagement. I’ve railed against my losses, fearing that if I started to weep I would never stop. But rage needed to stop. Weeping finally came and, of course, gently ended after a time. What was intolerable morphed into a deep and abiding appreciation for my time with the one I lost, and I was left with a deeper understanding of myself, others, and what it is to bet in the world. I’m thankful for this gift. I still miss them.

      810 days ago


  6. 810 days ago

    Henry Carl Simmons

    Here is an example of how some adults are learning empathy: the Micah Initiative (Richmond VA) pairs a congregant with a child (K-5) in schools that serve poor areas of the city. Often an adult will stay with the same child from K through 5–and then beyond. The change is empathy in the adults is palpable; it is lovely to see; colleagues comment on it.

    Please post other strategies of “remedial empathy training” for adults



  7. 811 days ago

    GayAnne Sweazey

    Universal Declaration of Human Rights is to the point for me.
    http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
    I like to keep my approach simple and broad, what I can do, what is fair. I have tried to teach tolerance and compassion. I try not to define my actions by philosophy or religious beliefs. I don’t want to offend anyone or burden them by expecting them to understand my motives through my own religious beliefs, but I believe that they are shown by good actions.



    • Gyälten Sangpo

      Good policy, keep things universally applicable.

      809 days ago


  8. 811 days ago

    Gyälten Sangpo

    “Emotional literacy.” I LOVE it!!!



    • Gyälten Sangpo

      We call these things – “emotional literacy, social and emotional competence” mindfulness. Cultivating mindfulness. ‘”Fostering the development of empathy” is cultivating an all-encompassing compassion based on equanimity towards all, and not bias.

      811 days ago


  9. 811 days ago

    Gyälten Sangpo

    Education is at the crux of the Buddhist practice. One of my lineage teachers set forth a vision and initiative that now exists as a thriving model in Europe and elsewhere called Universal Wisdom Education under The Foundation for Developing Wisdom and Compassion.

    “In Buddhism we have an incredible arrangement, universal education from the beginning at birth up until death, as an old man. I feel these things could be put into a universal language. Give up religion, give up Buddhism. Go beyond Buddhism. Put the essential aspect of the philosophy into scientific language. This is my aim.” –Lama Thubten Yeshe, January 1983

    Universal Wisdom Education takes forward the vision of its founder, Lama Thubten Yeshe. He envisioned an educational system that presents the profound wisdom of all religions in a way that transcends individual countries, philosophies and regions and contains both scientific and spiritual dimensions without compromising either; an education in techniques to develop love and compassion in everyone, including people averse to the world ‘religion’.

    Thus, the aim of Universal Wisdom Education is to empower children, youth and adults to make a positive difference in the world through developing their innate capacity to be kind and wise, and to live in a way that will bring peace and wellbeing to themselves and the people around them.

    This is the ‘essential’ education traditionally passed down from elder to child, teacher to pupil, and in places of worship. In a world beset by economic downturn, a severely damaged natural environment, religious fundamentalism and ethnic conflict, it is needed more than ever – especially in a fresh, contemporary and universal form that will inspire and draw people together rather than divide them.

    Universal Wisdom Education is a UK-based NGO established in 2005 under the title “The Foundation for Developing Compassion and Wisdom.” Its patron is His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Lama Zopa is its Honorary President.

    See http://www.essential-education.org/.



    • Gyälten Sangpo

      The ‘Core Curriculum’ provides a philosophical framework for all Universal Wisdom Education resources, programmes and training, ensuring that they are rigorous, authentic and profound, and that they take forward its aim of helping people everywhere to develop compassion and wisdom. Universal Wisdom Education proposes that the most effective and lasting form of compassion arises through the development of wisdom. The more deeply we investigate the nature of reality, particularly the changing nature of our body and mind and our interconnectedness with other beings and the natural world, the more we will develop the insight and understanding that intuitively gives rise to kindness and compassion. This process of exploration is the “universal wisdom education” that enables each one of us to lead a meaningful life and build a more peaceful world. It includes practices such as critical thinking and deep introspection which play a crucial part in helping us to absorb ideas and information, and to verify them with our own daily experience. The subject matter has been distilled into sixteen topics. The first nine of these are concerned with exploring reality, and the last seven with practising compassion. Buddhist reference materials inform the content of the 16 essays, but our aim is to present the topics in a way that is accessible and helpful to people of all traditions and cultures. The 16 essays have been commissioned from Buddhist academics and teachers Gavin Kilty, Wai Cheong Kok, Ven. Constance Miller, Mike Murray, Gareth Sparham, Sonam Thakchoe and Claudia Wellnitz. The aim of these essays is to introduce, in contemporary language and style, the essential content of each topic. The essays are currently being reviewed by Buddhist scholars to ensure their accuracy and completeness. Following this, the essays will be reworked and edited for publication. The Sixteen Topics Section 1: Exploring Reality What is real? What is the nature of the universe? How are things connected and why do things happen? Does everything change? What are the things that we know? How do we know things? What is my potential? Who am I? What ascertains reality? Section 2: Practising Compassion How can we recognise states of mind? How can we behave in an ethical way? How can we develop positive relationships? How can we create a happy and peaceful society? How can we care for the environment? How can we develop peace of mind? How can we sharpen our intellect?

      811 days ago


    • Gyälten Sangpo

      I’m not trying to wave our flag here, but merely present one model that’s in place under the patronage of HH Dalai Lama, and international symbol of compassion and empathy.

      811 days ago


  10. 811 days ago

    Gyälten Sangpo

    As a Tibetan Buddhist monk, I rejoice at this new partnership initiative between the Christian Science Monitor and Ashoka Changemakers.

    Specifically, as a Buddhist monk, I applaud your effort to “Start Empathy.” Universal compassion is the very heart of our Buddhist practice. From our perspective, empathy starts with acknowledging the challenges and hindrances we all face.

    Every sentient being wants happiness and doesn’t want suffering. Most of our actions are based on aligning ourselves with what we thing makes us happy, and avoiding that which brings about suffering. We all have this in common, and this is a starting point.

    Recognizing this, it’s important in applying empathy to be mindful of not causing someone (and one’s self) harm, and to reach common ground in what would yield shared happiness. These are just starting points. I may sound trite, but I will leave it as such without veering into a sermon or philosophical lecture.



    • Edwin Rutsch

      Center for Building a Culture of Empathy

      811 days ago


    • Edwin Rutsch

      Gyälte, as a Buddhist monk, this Interfaith EmpathyConference may be of interest to you, http://j.mp/LD9rLP

      811 days ago


    • Gyälten Sangpo

      Education is at the crux of the Buddhist practice. One of my lineage teachers set forth a vision and initiative that now exists as a thriving model in Europe and elsewhere called Universal Wisdom Education under The Foundation for Developing Wisdom and Compassion. In Buddhism we have an incredible arrangement, universal education from the beginning at birth up until death, as an old man. I feel these things could be put into a universal language. Give up religion, give up Buddhism. Go beyond Buddhism. Put the essential aspect of the philosophy into scientific language. This is my aim. –Lama Thubten Yeshe, January 1983 Universal Wisdom Education takes forward the vision of its founder, Lama Thubten Yeshe. He envisioned an educational system that presents the profound wisdom of all religions in a way that transcends individual countries, philosophies and regions and contains both scientific and spiritual dimensions without compromising either; an education in techniques to develop love and compassion in everyone, including people averse to the world ‘religion’. Thus, the aim of Universal Wisdom Education is to empower children, youth and adults to make a positive difference in the world through developing their innate capacity to be kind and wise, and to live in a way that will bring peace and wellbeing to themselves and the people around them. This is the ‘essential’ education traditionally passed down from elder to child, teacher to pupil, and in places of worship. In a world beset by economic downturn, a severely damaged natural environment, religious fundamentalism and ethnic conflict, it is needed more than ever – especially in a fresh, contemporary and universal form that will inspire and draw people together rather than divide them. Universal Wisdom Education is a UK-based NGO established in 2005 under the title “The Foundation for Developing Compassion and Wisdom.” Its patron is His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Lama Zopa is its Honorary President. See http://www.essential-education.org/.

      811 days ago


    • Gyälten Sangpo

      Thank you Edwin.

      811 days ago


    • Gyälten Sangpo

      That is fantastic Edwin!

      811 days ago


    • Edwin Rutsch

      If you would like to help produce a panel discussion on empathy and interfaith let me know.. send me an email to EdwinRutsch@gmail.com

      804 days ago


    • Edwin Rutsch

      Gyälten Here is a step by step guide to producing/moderating/facilitating and taking part in a panel. http://bit.ly/ulMd3h

      804 days ago


  11. 811 days ago

    Roger Lerner

    Teaching young children to stand up for each other when facing bullying or intimidation is vital. It allows us to teach brotherhood and empathy at an early age. Incorporating the lesson into curriculum is very important. For example, teaching children about historical instances where people stood up for each other against tyranny, oppression or violence is natural way to impart the lesson and foster the traits. How can we get this sort of thing incorporated into everyday elementary school curriculum?



  12. 811 days ago

    Edwin Rutsch

    We invite you to join the Empathy Conference:
    How to Nurture, Foster and Teach Empathy in the Education System?
    http://j.mp/JNDbGl
    If you are an educator we invite you to form a panel discussion.



  13. 811 days ago

    Sarah Mintz

    Just one more insight from our #SocEntChat … Check-out dovetaillearning.org for 12 practical tools that will help you teach your child empathy!



  14. 811 days ago

    Sarah Mintz

    Great Twitter conversation happening right now on Empathy. Insights from teachers, parents, practitioners and youth are bubbling up, just follow #SocEntChat on twitter or click on Lauren’s link below. I’ll re-post some of my favorite tweets so far…



    • Sarah Mintz

      @First_Power: #SocEntChat Empathy = Listening, co-developing models with communities, teaching in community, oral tools, art, pride, joy, doing.

      811 days ago


    • Sarah Mintz

      Insights from @LynnJohnson of Go Girls: here’s a link to the specific work of our #GoGirls project from this last year – bit.ly/LO8PEd #startempathy #socentchat

      811 days ago


  15. 811 days ago

    Sara Potler

    I am the Founder & CEO of Dance 4 Peace (www.dance4peace.org), a global peace education nonprofit that prevents violence and bullying and transforms conflict in schools and communities through dance and creative movement. Our curriculum transcends countries, socioeconomic differences, languages and cultures. We use movement, dance, and creative expression as a creative, fun way to prevent violence within and between all age groups, to promote social and emotional learning among our youth, and to stop bullying and teasing among children. We believe that through creative movement students communicate in a universal language and in a shared understanding. I applaud Ashoka for bringing empathy to the forefront of public discussion and academic debate. Now it’s time for us as educators, students, families and social sector professionals to integrate empathy into our learning, teaching, and leadership.



    • Sarah Mintz

      Loved your comment from the #SocEntChat: let’s inspire active learning & engagement. @Dance4PeaceNow: “let the students teach us! we all have a lot to learn. #socentchat”

      811 days ago


    • Jessica Feingold

      Here, here! One of the greatest things we are learning is that it’s critical to empower each role model in a child’s life — parents, teachers, administrators, and even peers — to model empathy in action. To build this ecosystem of change agents, however, can be difficult. The PTA isn’t a strong enough mechanism to ally parents and teachers, and often the motives of educators and school administrators don’t completely synergize. How can we as citizen sector orgs build these critical partnerships?

      811 days ago


  16. 811 days ago

    Lauren Parnell Marino

    Starting now (3PM Eastern time) until 5, we’ll be talking about empathy in our education system on Twitter. Follow the hashtag #SocEntChat to participate. Come join!

    For more details, see: http://pulse.changemakers.com/competitions/education/2012/02/empathy/#/education/2012/06/socentchat-about-activating-empathy-everywhere-on-june-11/



  17. 811 days ago

    Ann Moore

    How do you define empathy? I’m in a nursing home. Iquestion the quality of life for myself and others living in nursing homes. There must be alternatives for those who desire them. Policy (monetary) regarding how monies are spent on elder care must be changed. The same money that is spent on care in a nursing home could be used to fund alternatives that would cost much less could be managed and ought to be managed for the sake of everyone. Empathy calls for such efforts. Ann Moore



    • Gyälten Sangpo

      The profit margin, the drives to achieve efficiencies to maximize them directly impacts on balance negative care in nursing/managed care facilities. The baby boomers are becoming the biggest most affluent demography in America. As such, they yield a lot of financial clout and influence. Therefore, since managed care is a consideration in this demography, hopefully the influence they yield will help raise the issue of quality managed care.

      811 days ago


  18. 813 days ago

    Abby Sanders Mintz

    You know, sitting here thinking about Empathy, it occurs to me that the wide spread teaching of and practice of Empathy, Empathizing, could be world healing… If we each Empathized with everyone we encountered, everyone we saw on the News, everyone we pass on the street, just EVERYONE, there would be much less anger and hatred.
    I believe the primary place most Americans would like to see Empathy practiced is in Washington DC. Very few of our elected officials appear to feel any Empathy whatsoever towards “We the people…” who put them in their jobs.
    I direct this challenge to those on BOTH sides of the aisle. The ONLY WAY, in my view, that our leaders can demonstrate to all of us that I am wrong is to begin to work together again, to consistently, again, begin to act in a collegial manner towards one another. They must again practice the art of compromise, back and forth across the aisle, between the House and the Senate and finally between the Congress and the Executive Branch, no matter which side holds ultimate power.
    Until Honor and civil practices are reestablished in our Nation’s Capital, until Empathy and the consistent practice of Empathizing with the needs, the desires and beliefs of others is demonstrated daily by our leaders and all over our country, I believe the treasure that has been The United States of America will be lost…
    Teaching Empathy to every child and young person, every year in different ways, in every school nationwide, K through 12, is a way out of the present darkness. We need a new beginning. Let’s start NOW…



  19. 813 days ago

    Abby Sanders Mintz

    I am a mother of six amazing grown children. I also have a lot of experience working with children who have developmental differences. I am an avid believer in the importance of Empathy. I also believe it is something that must be taught and cultivated. One thing that worked for me, was to ask my children how they thought others felt in various circumstances. A child falls in a shopping center, and I would ask, “How do you think he feels?” “How do you think his mother feels?” Also, this is even more important for parents raising children with learning differences and developmental delays. This worked well for me, and I would love to hear of other strategies that parents have used. Thank you for raising this important topic!