About Molly Ritvo

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So far Molly Ritvo has created 39 blog entries.

Our Kids Are Losing Their Empathy & Technology Has A Lot to Do With It

t was shocking for me to discover that our kids are growing up to be far less caring and compassionate that any previous generation. And while you can’t place the blame entirely on technology, it’s undeniably a major factor in American society’s documented decline in empathy.

How did we get here? How can we fix it?

Dr. Michele Borba offers some critical insights and answers in her remarkable new book, UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World. I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Borba last week for the upcoming unGlue podcast launching soon.

Among the compelling evidence that she presents is University of Michigan research that suggests today’s college students are 40 percent less empathetic compared to their peers 30 years ago. Meanwhile, the level of narcissism has increased by 58 percent. An educational psychologist and parenting expert, Borba sees these damning trends in the rise of bullying in schools and the massive popularity of the selfie, among other cultural phenomena. Read more from Medium.Com.

May 7th, 2019|

Choosing the Right Social and Emotional Learning Programs and Practices

Educators have become increasingly interested in supporting students to cultivate inter- and intra-personal skills such as collaborative teamwork, self-management and responsible decision making – skills that are developed through the process of social and emotional learning (SEL). The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has created new opportunities for educators to incorporate evidence-based SEL interventions (such as curricula, programs, and practices) into their schools and classrooms. Educators across the country are not only expressing support for SEL but are adopting programs and practices to promote SEL. A new guide we developed with colleagues at the nonpartisan RAND Corporation is meant to help educators adopt evidenced-based interventions that fit the needs of their students and communities.

Identifying evidence-based interventions is one important step in reaping the benefits of SEL-related investments. Educators can use our 2017 report to learn more about SEL interventions that align with ESSA’s standards of evidence. Read more from The Wallace Blog.

March 21st, 2019|

How Self-Compassion Supports Academic Motivation and Emotional Wellness

Many of today’s parents and teachers came of age in the 1980s and 1990s — a time when the self-esteem movement was in its zenith. Self-esteem was supposed to be a panacea for a variety of social challenges, from substance abuse to violent crime.  The researchhowever, did not support such broad claims.

If teachers and parents want children to develop resilience and strength, a better approach is to teach them self-compassion, said Dr. Kristin Neff, a psychology professor at the University of Texas and author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself. “Self-esteem is a judgment about how valuable I am: very valuable, not so good, not valuable at all.”  Read more from KQED News.

February 11th, 2019|

From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope – From The National Commission on Social, Emotional, & Academic Development

After two decades of education debates that produced deep passions and deeper divisions, we have a chance for a fresh start. A growing movement dedicated to the social, emotional, and academic well-being of children is reshaping learning and changing lives across America. On the strength of its remarkable consensus, a nation at risk is finally a nation at hope.

Familiar arguments over national standards and the definition of accountability are not as relevant as they once were. The federal Every Student Succeeds Act passed in 2015 devolved a great deal of authority and power to states and communities—placing the future of education more directly in the hands of parents, teachers, and school leaders. This presents an obligation and an opportunity.

Devolution creates an obligation on the part of adults to use their influence in creative, effective ways to serve every student. Local control is not a release from rigor and responsibility; it is the broader distribution of responsibility. This sense of obligation should extend to all of the adults who constitute a child’s whole universe.

Devolution also creates a tremendous opportunity to get beyond the rutted debates of the last generation and to seek solutions that are both hopeful and unifying. Read More from this important report. 

January 23rd, 2019|

To Raise Resilient Kids, Be a Resilient Parent

As parents, we want our children to be emotionally resilient — able to handle life’s ups and downs. But parents’ ability to foster resilience in our children hinges a great deal on our own emotional resilience.

“A parent’s resilience serves as a template for a child to see how to deal with challenges, how to understand their own emotions,” said Dr. Dan Siegel, author of “The Yes Brain,” which focuses on cultivating children’s resilience.

Yet for many parents, taking the temper tantrums and meltdowns in stride presents a challenge — especially if we have unrealistic expectations of what childhood is really all about.

“Part of it is this idea that we have that parenthood should be this amazing, blissful, perfect culmination of our hopes and dreams,” said Katherine Reynolds Lewis, author of the forthcoming book “The Good News About Bad Behavior.” Read more from The New York Times.

January 11th, 2019|

3 Reasons to Say “Disability” Instead of “Special Needs”

I had posted a question about “special needs” and “disability”, wondering if anyone would participate in a pro/con series I was thinking of running on this blog about the words. What emerged instead was a huge discussion between my disabled activist friends (and to be clear, they are adults with different disabilities; all with at least one disability) and my friends from the parent community of kids with disabilities.

In many ways, it was a reflection of where I stand at my life, at an intersection between communities. I’m in the parent community of kids with disabilities as my daughter has Down syndrome. I’m in the disabled community by dint of being deaf, with TBI and C-PTSD. Oh, and I’m an activist probably because I was born in the year of the Water Ox – it’s in my nature. Read more.

December 28th, 2018|

An Inclusion Collaboration

Changing Perspectives is excited to announce a collaborative project with our friends at Kids Included Together (KIT)! This year, to celebrate Inclusive Schools Week, happening nationwide December 3-7, we have worked with KIT to produce an Inclusive Schools Week Activity Guide.

The impetus for this project came about when our Executive Director Sam Drazin and KIT CEO Torrie Dunlap connected last year and learned that KIT and CP have similar missions – working to make our communities and our schools more inclusive of children of all abilities. CP’s training and professional development work is primarily in schools and with KIT’s new Inclusive Schools initiative, Torrie and Sam thought this would be a perfect opportunity to put the two organizations’ collective minds together and create an inclusion toolkit for educators.

Each December, the Inclusive Schools Network promotes Inclusive Schools Week to celebrate the progress that our public schools have made in being more inclusive of students with disabilities (and other marginalized identities) and also to encourage dialogue that will continue to move the needle forward on inclusion.

This year, Changing Perspectives and KIT are participating in ISW by providing an Activity Guide as a free resource for teachers and administrators. This Activity Guide has a mini-lesson plan for each day of the week, centered around a daily theme. Included in the plans and related to each theme are professional development resources for teachers, suggested student and school-wide activities, informal learning assessment questions, and assorted additional inclusion resources.

We’ve tried to make the Activity Guide easy-to-use and provide resources that are short and to the point – we know how valuable a teacher’s time is. The great thing is that teachers can use as many or as few of the tools as they want! If they’re looking for one great group activity to do with a Best Buddies or Unified Theater club or if they think their school would embrace a week of school-wide activities like Mix-It-Up Lunches and Unique Hat Day – we’ve got all those options covered!

The Inclusive Schools Week Activity Guide is accessible to anyone and everyone on KIT’s Online Learning Center. You don’t need to create an account to download the guide but we hope you’ll check out the Free Inclusion Resources and sign up for a free trial while you’re there so you can see the plethora of additional resources available.

We encourage everyone to get their school or their child’s school involved in Inclusive Schools Week and we want to thank KIT for being such a fantastic partner in inclusion!

Click here to access the Inclusive Schools Week Activity Guide

November 19th, 2018|

How—and—Why to Listen Until Someone Feels Heard

Many people who choose careers in medicine or at nonprofits are intrinsically motivated to serve others. And yet most of us haven’t received any training to hone our ability to empathize; we just do our best. If we expect every healthcare professional to empathize with every patient, we must provide training. Working in hospitals is tremendously stressful: Doctors-in-training have to learn to work on a team, document their actions extensively, take on sleep-depriving schedules, and begin to take responsibility for the health of their patients. They may see death for the first time. They must learn to stand in the midst of suffering, field questions they don’t know the answers to, and parse medical jargon. As they become more senior, they may travel back and forth from outpatient to inpatient settings. They may miss their kid’s soccer game to comfort a patient who is contemplating their own mortality. Amidst all of this, studies show that physician empathy levels decline throughout training, and rise again only later in a doctor’s career. Read more from SSIR (Stanford Social Innovation Review).

November 7th, 2018|

Virtual World Provides Haven For Those With Special Needs

University of California, Irvine anthropology professor Tom Boellstorff studied LaScala and hundreds of other players with disabilities in his research into how they use Second Life for social interaction that often escapes them in non-virtual settings. Boellstorff started playing in 2004 under the avatar Tom Bukowski. He’d become interested in studying new virtual worlds with the same methods he used in the field as an anthropologist observing gay and lesbian culture in Indonesia. Boellstorff found that physical world research techniques transferred to the virtual one, including participant-observation, a method used by cultural anthropologists. Read more on DisabilityScoop.

A child participates in an applied behavior analysis session. (Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

October 24th, 2018|

‘Social Robots’ Show Promise As Autism Intervention

Children with autism could see meaningful social skills gains from working with an interactive robot at home, researchers say.

study published this month in the journal Science Robotics found that kids on the spectrum who spent just 30 minutes a day with the so-called social robots made significant improvements in eye contact and social behaviors.

“The children showed improved performance across the board,” said Brian Scassellati, a professor of computer science at Yale University who led the study. “This was more than we had hoped; not only did the children and parents still enjoy working with the robot after a month, but the children were showing improvements that persisted even when the robots were not around.” Read more from Disability Scoop.

September 11th, 2018|