I’ve always thought that building empathy in kids is best done with stories. You can tell them to be kind to one another, but kids are humans with egos and compete with each other constantly. Feeling superior feels good. So how do stories bridge racial and cultural divides? Pretty simple answer. Wisdom.
Sounds like an old fashioned word, but when I open a GOLDEN RULE K-2 school performance with The Name of the Tree, a hugely entertaining tale from Africa filled with funny animal characters, and all the kids in the audience like it, that dash of universal human wisdom sinks in. “Wow,” they say, “that cool story came from Africa?” Same thing with the follow-up stories, an Aesop’s fable from ancient Greece and a singalong tale from Italy.
Other shows have other mixes of world tales––Japanese, Irish, Native American, Russian––but the goal is always the same. Show that wisdom comes from all we humans, regardless of our surface differences.