Letter from Our Director - Teaching Empathy Institute
Teaching Empathy Institute works to establish emotionally and physically safe learning communities for elementary, middle and high school students and the adults who work with them. Working in the Hudson Valley of New York, TEI creates tailor-made programs designed to foster dialogue about social culture building while strengthening the capacity for the infusion of empathy and compassion into all aspects of the learning experience.
Teaching Empathy Institute, SEL, Social and emotional learning, mindfulness, diversity, education, bullying, anti-bullying, k-12, learning, david levine, school of belonging
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Teaching Empathy: The ancient way is now cutting edge

A Letter from our Director

In November, 2012, three weeks after Superstorm Sandy ravaged the Northeast seaboard, I visited my childhood home near Sea Bright, New Jersey, where my parents still live. As I drove north on Ocean Avenue I was deeply touched by what I saw; I saw people working together, cleaning up, and beginning the process of rebuilding the community they love. It is in such times of extreme need when each person’s natural inclination toward empathy and compassion surfaces.

Help us always be the

Gardeners of the spirit

Who know that without darkness

Nothing comes to birth

As without light

Nothing flowers

May Sarton

I wonder what would the world be like if we acted with this level of decency, tenderness and caring every day in all of our interactions?

We can teach this way of being in our schools by living this way. I believe that if all schools (instead of a select few) put as much emphasis and exploration in teaching social and emotional competencies as they do on math, science and literacy, in 10 years, the workforce would be more productive, talented and happier, helping our nation and the rest of the world at the same time. In the words of emotional intelligence author and practitioner Robert K. Cooper: “These skills are common sense but not common practice.”

The current reality is that most schools are evaluated and funded based on reaching state standards and test scores. Human relationship skill building is often seen as an “add-on,” or something that can’t be taught, but these skills can be refined through conversation, modeling and recognition. Social and emotional learning is implemented best when it is a part of a consciousness movement—one that creates a balanced, challenging, and ultimately life-changing learning community.

Let’s make it common practice to return to the ancient way when people survived and excelled because they knew that survival was based on working together, overcoming conflicts, and helping their neighbors through difficult times.

We need to create an authentic curriculum—a curriculum of human touch. Our children deserve it, and the world definitely needs it.

Welcome to the TEI learning community.

David Levine