[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[Xmca-l] Re: Question on Developing Empathy



Hello Robert

That was a truly moving episode. Thank you for sharing that.  That was
definitely an epiphany for Darren.  The  young mother opened up the
possibilities for self-discovery and a chance to make  explicit a profound
insight about his own situation.

I am working in Namibia at the moment, and there was an article in the
paper about a similar situation. Yesterday a man (stepfather) killed his
wife in front of her son (4).  While he was stabbing her  (head, eyes,
neck)with two knives, the little boy was trying to get him to stop by
stabbing the murderer  with a kitchen knife in his thigh, shouting "stop
killing my mother !".  I wonder what life will deliver this little boy in
the future.

Carol




On 5 March 2014 18:17, Robert Lake <boblake@georgiasouthern.edu> wrote:

> Hi Yrjö and Mike,
>
> I am really excited about this thread and want to point to another
> interesting "socio-cultural niche" for this kind of work originated in
> Canada in 1996 called *The Roots of Empathy,* a curriculum that  is slowly
> catching on several other countries. In this program a baby and mother
> visit a classroom once a month for the first year of the child's life. This
> relationship was chosen because as founder Mary Gordon believes "is best
> example of emotional attunement there is which is why I chose it as a model
> of empathy for children to experience'. She goes on to describe what
> happens during the monthly sessions in a way that provides another
> fascinating example of Vygotsky's notion of a leading activity within the
> ZPD.
>
>
>  In Roots of Empathy, children become scientists who explore the inner
> consciousness of a baby through a curriculum led by a certified instructor,
> who guides them to describe what the baby is feeling and how the parent is
> paying attention to the baby's needs. This powerful learning is then
> extended outwards so children identify and reflect on their own thoughts
> and feelings and those of others (empathy). For many children, this is the
> only time where we actually attend to their emotional needs as well as
> their academic development.   (Gordon, 2010, n.p.)
>
> There have been several mixed method studies of the effects of this
> curriculum over the last ten years in an ongoing longitudinal study that
> show a decrease in aggression, and increase in emotional understanding and
> care. These results certainly support the idea that perezhivanie can
> certainly increase through leading activities. One of the most dramatic
> stories comes from Gordon's (2009) book.
>
>
>
> *Darren was the oldest child I ever saw in a Roots of Empathy class. He was
> in Grade 8 and had been held back twice. He was two years older than
> everyone else and already starting to grow a beard. I knew his story: his
> mother had been murdered in front of his eyes when he was four years old,
> and he had lived in a succession of foster homes ever since. Darren looked
> menacing because he wanted us to know he was tough: his head was shaved
> except for a ponytail at the top and he had a tattoo on the back of his
> head.*
>
> *The instructor of the Roots of Empathy program was explaining to the class
> about differences in temperament that day. She invited the young mother who
> was visiting the class with Evan, her six-month-old baby, to share her
> thoughts about her baby's temperament. Joining in the discussion, the
> mother told the class how Evan liked to face outwards when he was in the
> Snugli and didn't want to cuddle into her, and how she would have preferred
> to have a more cuddly baby. As the class ended, the mother asked if anyone
> wanted to try on the Snugli, which was green and trimmed with pink brocade.
> To everyone's surprise, Darren offered to try it, and as the other students
> scrambled to get ready for lunch, he strapped it on. Then he asked if he
> could put Evan in. The mother was a little apprehensive, but she handed him
> the baby, and he put Evan in, facing towards his chest. That wise little
> baby snuggled right in, and Darren took him into a quiet corner and rocked
> back and forth with the baby in his arms for several minutes. Finally, he
> came back to where the mother and the Roots of Empathy instructor were
> waiting and he asked: "If nobody has ever loved you, do you think you could
> still be a good father?" *( pp. 5-6)
>
>
>
> Through this experience (perezhivanie?) Darren began to imagine himself
> differently and perhaps he experienced a small shift in his sense of
> personal agency. It would be interesting to follow up on Darren to see how
> these learning experiences may have shaped his development. Like all areas
> of development in Vygotsky's work,. imagination, cognition and emotion all
> unite with our own experience in ways that  break the crusts of the given.
>
>
> Gordon, M.  (2009). *The roots of empathy : Changing the world child by
> child. *New York: The Experiment Publishers.
>
>
> Gordon, M. (2010, Feb. 18). 'Empathic Civilization': Building a New World
> One Child at A Time. *Huffington Post*
>
>                                   Retrieved from:
>
> http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-gordon/empathic-civilization-bui_b_464359.html
>
>
>
>
>
> On Wed, Mar 5, 2014 at 3:30 AM, "Engeström, Yrjö H M" <
> yrjo.engestrom@helsinki.fi> wrote:
>
> > Mike, I am completing a paper on vicious and expansive circles and their
> > interplay. In your message below, the sentence marked in red is so much
> > right on the money that I would like to use it as a motto in the paper
> > (with the source appropriately acknowledged). Will you give permission?
> >
> > Take care,
> >
> > Yrjö
> >
> >
> > On Mar 5, 2014, at 5:17 AM, mike cole wrote:
> >
> > > Hi Larry-- I still have not read John's paper. But at least dealing
> with
> > > email I could not answer owing to local consequences of getting some of
> > the
> > > rain
> > > we asked for.
> > >
> > > Firstly, here we have a clear case where John should be asked to join
> the
> > > discussion. He is a long-admired colleague with whom we have far too
> > little
> > > interaction, speaking personally.
> > >
> > > So, here is a part of answering. Perhaps off topic. I hope not. I
> believe
> > > that the principle of the retrospective construction of meaning is a
> > > foundational part of the problem under discussion and fictive stories
> > about
> > > how cognition and emotion are a dance between the frontal lobe and the
> > > limbic system. In so far as emotion is effected AT ALL by experience,
> it
> > is
> > > retrospective, and hence, constructive. the "tools" of that
> construction
> > > are, in the aggregate, human culture.
> > >
> > > Cultural cognition is always, in principle, non-linear -- a sequences
> of
> > > vicious circles and spirals of development.
> > >
> > > As a routine practice, I used to spend a lot of time with
> undergraduates
> > at
> > > a local housing project. There the students engaged in a variety of
> > > mutually valued practices -- a hybrid idioculture-- and learned through
> > > empathy. It was all about growing ourselves by participating in the
> > > development of others.
> > >
> > > Finding socio-cultural-historical niches where such settings can be
> > > sustained is quite a different matter. I am particularly interested in
> > how
> > > fragile and pre- occupying they are.
> > >
> > > mike
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > On Tue, Mar 4, 2014 at 6:22 AM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
> > wrote:
> > >
> > >> A further response to John Shotter's exploration on
> subjective/objective
> > >> cuts as fluid dynamic wayfinding [orienting]
> > >>
> > >> John concludes the paper on agential realism on page 19 with a
> > question, in
> > >> which he is inviting our answer-ability. In re-stating this question
> on
> > the
> > >> theme of *empathy* I hope this concrete question may generate
> responses
> > >> which are relevant for how we go on together.
> > >>
> > >> The last paragraph on page 19 in which he leads up to the question is
> > >> re-stated:
> > >>
> > >> All this is quite revolutionary. Much of what we have taken as *basic*
> > to
> > >> our inquiries, e.g., the variables whose effects in social life we
> seek
> > to
> > >> understand, such as race, ethnicity, culture, age, social class;
> > processes
> > >> such as motivation, perception, cognition; things such as emotions,
> > >> excuses, justifications, and so on, and so on, we come to realize are
> > all,
> > >> in fact, AFTER THE FACT outcomes of our inquiries. Further, when in
> > >> cognitive neuroscience in particular we read such sentences as:
> "Empathy
> > >> draws on these bodily and limbic shifts in a process called
> > 'interoception'
> > >> in which we perceive inward ... [where] interoception, interpretation,
> > and
> > >> attribution are the proposed steps of empathy carried out by the
> > >> pre-frontal region [of the brain]"(Seigal, 2007, p.168) we must ASK
> > >> OURSELVES whether anything in this account actually relates to
> > phenomena in
> > >> people's everyday activities we call empathic [Frankfurt, 1998]?
> > >> Also, could we ever possibly apply these supposed 'elements' in
> actually
> > >> helping someone deficient in empathy to come to SHOW empathy more in
> > their
> > >> daily practice, say, in nursing elderly patients - or is it the case
> > that
> > >> the empathic conduct of an everyday practice needs to be LEARNED by
> > quite
> > >> some other means than by building it up, piece by piece, from
> objective
> > >> elements according to PRE-ESTABLISHED principles? To repeat the point
> > made
> > >> above, all these nominalized  'things' are FORESHADOWED in the very
> WAY
> > in
> > >> which we, prior to the conduct of our investigations, commit ourselves
> > to a
> > >> particular way of LOOKING AT the matter - "the decisive movement of
> the
> > >> conjuring trick has been made," says Wittgenstein (1953), "and it was
> > the
> > >> very one that we thought quite innocent."
> > >>
> > >> I, at work in schools, ask similar questions about *developing*
> empathy
> > and
> > >> believe John Shotter in this article offers an answer which invites
> > further
> > >> commentary.  His central insight is that by enacting agential cuts AS
> > >> performances we divide ourselves into ASPECTS which DO the sensing
> > >> AND ASPECTS of ourselves that are subjected to what is sensed. In
> other
> > >> words our *findings* cannot be taken AS *basic* but are actually
> > developed
> > >> WITHIN our practices
> > >>
> > >> John's conclusion is hermeneutical, inviting further answer-ability. I
> > >> believe his questions and answers are relevant to *developing* empathy
> > >> WITHIN our WAYS of orienting each in the other.
> > >> Larry
> > >>
> >
> >
>



-- 
Carol A  Macdonald Ph D (Edin)
Developmental psycholinguist
Academic, Researcher,  and Editor
Honorary Research Fellow: Department of Linguistics, Unisa
Status: O