An article in Sunday's New York Times discusses how schools in more affluent areas are giving lessons in empathy to their students and what they are seeing is a reduction in bullying, harassment and fighting from earlier years. Certainly learning to walk in someone else's shoes has always been a key principle of all ethically healthy societies. For me, one of the reasons I've been such a strong supporter of the Southern Poverty Law Center is they do not only track and document hate groups although they do a remarkable job of that, I also really appreciate that they have spent years putting together impressive materials for their Teaching Tolerance program. From the article, it seems that the SPLC path-breaking program was not specifically used in the programs discussed, nevertheless much of the material and the goals were consistent with SPLC's work.
In my opinion, learning and practicing empathy is one of the most crucial ways we can prepare for the future challenges our country and our world face. We all need to invest in helping our children (and ourselves) learn how to empathize with others who are not like ourselves because the changes we face will truly stress all of us as we strive to remain ethical and compassionate human beings.