Children of Boomers- no empathy

http://online.worldmag.com/2011/08/10/showing-no-empathy/ "Children of boomers... have recorded the lowest rates of measured empathy in American history, according to new research."

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RPittman's picture

Why should this be a big surprise. We don't need documented research and statistics to know this. A little observation and reason will suffice. (As an aside, it seems as if we need a poll or survey with statistics to know anything nowadays. Whatever happened to our good old-fashioned powers of observation and reason? Research and statistics can lie effectively too.) Since the "Me-generation" of the 1980's, our society, including Christians, has thrived on narcissism. Christians in the likes of Peale with his positive mental attitude, Schuler with his possibility thinking, and Dobson with his self-esteem have followed the secular trend. (BTW, there is increasing alarm in secular circles over the dangers of emphasizing self-esteem.) Why should we expect empathy from children raised on a philosophy of selfism? I can remember a time when the Christian emphasis was on God and others. We are only reaping what we have sown. I'm not surprised.

Brenda T's picture

Not too long ago, an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education asked if colleges should be teaching empathy through role-playing, empathy experiments, etc. Apparently some colleges already are.

I am not advocating for empathy education nor saying I am in agreement with the article, but I thought it was interesting that it is a topic of serious conversation in higher education.

http://chronicle.com/blogs/innovations/should-we-teach-empathy-in-colleg...

RPittman's picture

Brenda T wrote:
Not too long ago, an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education asked if colleges should be teaching empathy through role-playing, empathy experiments, etc. Apparently some colleges already are.

I am not advocating for empathy education nor saying I am in agreement with the article, but I thought it was interesting that it is a topic of serious conversation in higher education.

http://chronicle.com/blogs/innovations/should-we-teach-empathy-in-colleg..., thank you for sharing this article. You've raised some interesting points. The question, I think, that confronts us is whether things in the affective domain (e.g. empathy, compassion, etc.) can be taught as we teach things in the cognitive domain (e.g. languages, mathematics, history, etc.)? It appears that such programs are addressing the cognitive domain in an effort to change the affective domain. What do you think?

Brenda T's picture

I'm not sure at this point. The college used in the example did not offer credit for the empathy course. And, one of the links within the article [http://chronicle.com/article/Why-Should-We-Care-What/128420/ seemed to focus on how professors could teach empathy along with their current subjects of expertise. But, they would attempt to teach empathy in a different way than they would teach English, Math, etc. However, they also believe empathy is measurable through multiple choice tests. They are certain, however, that empathy can be taught and that everyone has the capacity to learn to empathize -- even though they say that some may need to work harder at it or spend more time working at it.

Personally, I have never understood how spending a night in a cardboard box gives a person a homeless feeling or how going a day without food allows a person to know what a starving Somalian is going through, because all the while you are in the box or feeling hungry you know in the back of your mind that the next morning or the next day you will be snug in your home with a full belly of food. The experiment may induce feelings of empathy, but it is only because you think about how miserable you are/were; not necessarily because you are thinking only of other people. So, it seems that they think the cure for narcissism is empathy training, but through the process of empathy training the focus is on yourself -- it still seems narcissistic.