Reub's journey

30 October 2010

Second Step

Jon Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity" was held in Washington DC today, and how I would have loved to have been there. Instead I am thousands of miles away, reading and writing about a program that is meant to teach kids how to disagree respectfully, have empathy, and learn how to take perspective...gee this really sounds a lot like the whole point of that big rally! Maybe it's okay that I am here doing what I'm doing.

We have begun a new program at the middle school where I teach. It takes up part of only one morning each month, but it is meant to be put into practice on a daily basis. I couldn't help but think, as I scanned the qualities of a program called Second Step, that a huge portion of the general public could stand to participate right along with us. The explanatory letter that went home to parents asked them to inquire of their children about the skills that they were learning this year, and it gave some sample questions:

"How do you show someone you're actively listening to them?"
"What are some ways you can be an ally to someone?"
"Why should you try to understand other peoples' perspectives?"

Wow. As I watch the coming elections get uglier by the day, and American politics polarize to the point of becoming completely dysfunctional, I wonder how many adults know how to answer these questions themselves.

Meanwhile their kids are going to be working on the following skills:

Perspective taking
Bullying prevention and bystander power
Respectful disagreement
Emotional Management
Problem solving

Second Step is a program developed by a non-profit group called the Committee for Children, and they have quite a good book list for children, educators and parents.

Respectful disagreement...perspective taking...empathy...wouldn't it be nice if all adults had a grip on this stuff. It would make talking about politics so much more productive.


  1. Fantastic! This is the peace process in action. Just like today in DC - tolerance, humor and compassion - these are the qualities we need.

    VERY cool - Second Step!

  2. I saw Goldie Hawn on TV the other day. She was being interviewed about a program she started...or supports...that is all about respect and getting along and issues with bullying in the California schools. You may wish to look into that.

  3. have you been listening to the conversations in our house???? non-violent communication, wondering how to talk to the kids about bullying, trying to ammend the way we are talking to each other...etc - dan and i are going to a workshop in a couple of weeks. i think it is amazing (and about damn time!!!) that schools are making this a bigger part of their focus.

  4. Listening is so difficult for me sometimes. As soon as I listen enough to get the idea of what someone is saying, my brain switches and I start listening to what I'm going to answer...Oh, and I just saw your Scary shoot - I diodn't have time this weekend to look at many so I'm gouing back.

  5., I did see your shoot already. But I also liked it the second time around.

  6. Hmmmm...makes me think that quite a bit of our new casters and political pundits would benefit too!

  7. PS Ambler is not that far from NJ. I can be at an NJ beach heading directly east in about 1+ hour. To get to NJ I just have to cross through Bucks County and then cross the Delaware River and there I am...


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