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Why the Most Important Back-to-School Supply is Not Available in Any Store

Liz Dwyer

It's back-to-school time which means stores are advertising high and low tech supplies to help kids do their best in school. However author Homa Tavangar says the most important "supply" kids need can't be bought: empathy. "It's foundational to embracing differences, building relationships, gaining a global perspective, conducting richer and deeper analysis, and communicating more effectively," she says, making empathy a skill that's "about as '21st century' as it gets."

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  • Jeff Hoffart

    Character education should underpin and transcend all teaching and learning within and outside of schools. I am interested in what the best resources are (books, online resources, lessons) that teachers have found useful in supporting and reinforcing these vital values.

    • Kris Giere

      Sharing stories of hardship, community outreach, etc. typically works well in my experience. The key is to get people to do something at that "Awww, that's sad" moment. And by do something, I do not mean to imply give money. Giving money has a much smaller impact than building something, volunteering time, and the like. Giving of one's self is proven to increase empathy time and time again.

  • Kris Giere

    Empathy is learned and should be taught more often throughout society. All too often, people make light of the value of empathy, even disparaging those who practice empathy as being soft or weak. Empathy has so much to offer our abilities and interactions. It should be prioritized higher than we do in typical American society.

    • John Wynn

      Well said Kris. My thoughts immediately went to the poor example being set by many of our elected officials.

      • Kris Giere

        Absolutely. Many elected officials could benefit from having more empathy.