BABIES are to be used in classrooms throughout Scotland as part of a pioneering initiative to reduce levels of bullying and aggression. The Herald in Scotland reports that the project, called Roots of Empathy, encourages children to interact in a nurturing manner with each other by bringing a baby and its parent into the classroom over the course of a school year.
Pupils are shown the attentive, loving interaction between the parent and child in a bid to teach them to better understand their own feelings and the feelings of others. The primary focus of the programme is to reduce problem behaviour, including fighting and bullying.
Louise Warde-Hunter, strategic director of children’s services at Action for Children, which is running the project, said it helped schoolchildren to get along.
“This raises levels of empathy among classmates, resulting in more respectful relationships and a dramatic reduction in levels of aggression among schoolchildren,” she said. “By increasing levels of emotional literacy in children at a young age we can lay the foundation for safe and caring classrooms and, in the long-term, safe and caring societies.”
That makes perfect sense to me but I’m still trying to get round the idea of bringing Baby F to school. I’m sure the kids would ooh and aah (well I hope they would) but the whole ‘bring a baby to school’ idea would involve quite a bit of organization and involvement from the mother (L in this case). Not practical for us since L is already swamped at work and I’m trying to get up to speed with the requirements of being a school psychologist 12 years after I last worked as a school counselor.
I’m enjoying it but there’s a fair amount of anxiety about living up to the standard set by my illustrious predecessor, who earned his PhD in Psychology in his last six months here and was a much-liked and respected speaker at schools and conferences. I’m lucky if I manage to get to one conference a year so the idea of actually presenting at a conference seems light years away.
I’m pretty pleased that I’ve managed to post something since I’m usually so discouraged by the lack of sustained concentration when it comes to blogging that I don’t post anything at all. Perhaps I’m losing my blogging enthusiasm. But one thing I would really like is if any of my blogging friends managed to find me on Goodreads so that I can keep up-to-date with what people are reading and have read and recommended.
Quite unrelatedly, L and I were browsing through Exclusive Books on Sunday when we saw a series of Gruffalo-related soft toys. They’re delightful and I was very tempted but eventually we thought that a book was probably more worthwhile. While we were admiring the true-to-the-book likeness of the toys, security arrived and were escorted into the backroom where the booksellers were keeping a shoplifter. I gathered that the shoplifter was a she and that she was black but other than that I didn’t hear anything more and felt a bit bad about being too curious. I remember that in the London riots the looters smashed all the windows in one street except Waterstones (which the commenters saw as a sign of the times – trainers being far more in vogue than books). But now I can’t help being curious. What was this woman trying to steal? Perhaps a DVD or a magazine. I can’t imagine anyone stuffing The Gruffalo under their jacket. But what if it was something for her child? Would we think any differently about it?
On the same topic, if you want to hear what Jenny Diski has to say about shoplifting (and her own shoplifting of books as a young teacher) then check out the podcasts at The New Yorker. I’m still reading and enjoying her Skating to Antartica but I don’t have anything interesting or profound to say about that.