http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111230134836.htm

" A study of 20 elementary schools in Hawaii has found that a focused program to build social, emotional and character skills resulted in significantly improved overall quality of education"

If there were a focus in every school to teach children empathy, consideration, responsibility, egalitarianism and the general awareness of what they do to each other, then a rational morality based upon psychology could replace the morality based upon religion and this could reduce suffering.

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Wanderer, I am so sorry to learn of your situation and the struggles you experienced sorting out all the stuff that came at you. Having a step brother who was troubled, and your problems must have presented very tough challenges for your mother and father.  You do not mention if they were strict or lenient or neglectful, and being a good parent requires tremendous skills.  I do hope you experience strength and self-confidence and that expressing your feelings and experiences in a supportive community helps. 

Thanks Joan. They were lousy parents, my father was authoritarian and emotionally abusive and my mother was emotionally abused and incapable of standing up to him. Both my problems and my step-brothers were wholly the result of having lousy parents (his may actually have been even worse than mine). I am getting stronger and more self-confident, but it is something that I have to work at every day. And yes, having a supportive community with people such as yourself helps!

I think your point is well taken Maruli.

Maruli, YES! This is exactly what we need ... and I am an old school marm.  How many times have I tried to influence our teaching methods!  However, people awaken to the realization that there is more to school than the three Rs and all the skills needed for life are learnable/teachable.  All these skills should be taught at home, then in school, and then get on to the technical and professional skills empowered by these basic, fundamental skills.  I tried to get critical thinking introduced into our schools with several other teachers and the school board and administration would not even allow us to experiment and explore. "We KNOW what should be taught" they said; "We HAVE the answers! 

Well, they didn't know that they didn't know. 

Perhaps there is hope if more people understand the meaning of this research. 

Maruli, thank you!

The indifference to teaching children the specific skills needed to enable them to be less harmful to others is a consequence to the general indifference to people harming each other.   As long as people are supposed to be consoled by the promise of the reward in the afterlife, nobody really bothers about making the life before death less painful.  

We need an atheist moral based upon the Epicurean principle of not harming and not being harmed.  But it is not enough to accept that principle, people need to learn awareness for what harm they do. 

This is brilliant - I'm really interested in promoting this sort approach - would love to spend some time on my own character skills....

As much as this method of teaching seems great, it'll be an eternity before it's widely adopted. The glacial pace our society moves in regard to instituting changes in education is will short change generations of students.

oracle - I agree - I think that only strong personal bonds can provide the loving care of education that provides this level of education - from very small communities where teachers know their students and are invested in their lives in the community, or in a home education situation - any attempt to industrialised these sorts of things always seems to lead to separation of genuine connection.

Here is another study:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120105145833.htm

"A study of more than 130 primary and secondary pupils found that taking part in practical philosophy sessions improved the children's listening skills, gave them greater respect for other people, encouraged them to consider other perspectives and ideas they may not otherwise have thought about and helped them analyse problems so that they are thought through before making decisions."

I like it!

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