Roots of Empathy

From the Roots of Empathy Website

Roots of Empathy has been called Canada’s olive branch to the world.

Roots of Empathy is a powerful idea whose time has come. An evidence-based charitable organization, its mission is to build caring, peaceful, and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults. Its vision is to change the world – child by child.

At the heart of the program are classroom visits by an infant and parent. Through guided observations of this loving relationship, children learn to identify and reflect on their own thoughts and feelings and those of others (empathy). Independent evaluations consistently show children who receive Roots of Empathy experience dramatic and lasting effects in terms of increased positive social behaviour (sharing, helping and including) and decreased aggression.  

The Empathic Civilization Animation


Bestselling author, political adviser and social and ethical prophet Jeremy Rifkin investigates the evolution of empathy and the profound ways that it has shaped our development and our society.

I love the use of the whiteboard to illustrate his message–and what a great message it is. I was especially fascinated by the mention of mirror neurons.


Psychologists have done numerous studies with newborn infants to shed light on the notion of mirror neurons. One way that they discovered the existence of mirror neurons was when psychologists stuck out their tongues at babies, the babies would instinctively stick out their tongues in response–because that is one of the easiest motor movements that a baby can make right from birth.


Mirror neurons form the basis of our ability to learn and are very important in the development of the infant. Before we learned through rationalization, critical thinking and rote memorization, we learned by mimicking other people around us.