December 2016

December 2016 Blog

By Edward DeRoche


Through much effort and careful planning, I was able to avoid participation in “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday.”

Using a specially designed GPS system, I tried to track another meaning for December—a virtues search –one that might help frame what this month should be about for all of us –parents, kids, and teachers== now and for the New Year.


Kindness is not an inherited trait; it is a learned behavior. —Katie Couric

An article in Scientific American (February 26, 2009) titled “Forget Survival of the Fittest: It Is Kindness That Counts,” features an interview with Dacher Keltner author of Born to be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. Keltner noted that humans have remarkable tendencies toward kindness, play, generosity, reverence, and self-sacrifice.

The interviewer asked Keltner about “take aways “ from his study. His science-based conclusion was that emotions are “the core of our capacities for virtue like “cooperation” love and tenderness,” and that emotion that bring out the “good in others and in one’s self can readily be cultivated” (taught and learned, observed and practiced, modeled and mentored).

Here is a video by San Diego’s Superintendent, Cindy Marten, addressing teachers (also useful for parents) on the topic of “Why Kindness Matters.”

The Superintendent’s talk addresses the WHY question.

In the link below, two elementary school teachers (Pinger and Flook) discuss the HOW question by sharing their lessons from a “kindness curriculum” for young students (K-3).

The research suggests that “acts of kindness” may help increase and strengthen student relationships, social engagement, and broaden their social networks.


Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie, Author

Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology and author of the book THANKS! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, states that gratitude is the “queen of the virtues.”

Emmons defines gratitude “as affirming a benefit and giving credit to others for that benefit. In other words, gratitude, when properly understood, leads to an active appreciation of others.”

Several studies demonstrate relationships between gratitude and physical health. Why? Say the researchers, because of the “positive emotions that it fosters, the influence it has on relationships, and at the heart of joy.”

The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California ( offers several video presentations on the this topic including “making gratitude viral,” “cultivating gratitude in the workplace,“ “how can we cultivate gratitude in schools,” and “how parents can foster gratitude in kids.”


Empathy is at the heart of what it means to be human. It’s a foundation for acting ethically, for good relationships of many kinds, for loving well, and for professional success. And it’s key to preventing bullying and many other forms of cruelty. R. Weissbourd & S. Jones

The first the first stage of becoming empathetic is “cognitive empathy,” or the act of knowing how another person feels. The second is “emotional empathy,” or the capacity to physically feel the emotions of another. As with cognitive empathy, however, emotional empathy can have troublesome consequences if applied in isolation. Third is “compassionate empathy”, which is what occurs when we combine the previous two in the name of acting upon what we think and feel. (Sam Chaltain, “The Empathy Formula,” Huffington Post, 12-18-2012)

Cultural historian and author of Wonderbox: Curious Histories of How to Live, Roman Krznaric describes how the art of empathy can not only enrich one’s own life but also help to create social change. See the six habits of empathetic people at:

Also view this 3-minute video by Dr. Susan Stillman describing what empathy is about.                                                                  


Civility costs nothing, and buys everything. – Mary Wortley Montagu

One of the best resources I found “shopping around”, is Marilyn Price-Mitchell’s “Civility 101” — respect, restraint, decency, empathy. She answers questions like: What is civility? Is it declining? What is the relationship between incivility and violence and bullying? What are 15 ways to foster respectful behavior? She is a developmental psychologist, she writes about positive youth development, K-12 education, and family-school-community partnerships. Website // @DrPriceMitchell // Facebook

Speak Kindly: A Video about Civility and Respecting Others – YouTube Oct 13, 2009 Class Project for Communication Civilities and Ethics about the dangers of not speaking kindly.


Faith –it makes things possible, not easy.

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