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The Trouble With Empathy

Molly Worthen: Few would quarrel with a kindergarten teacher’s noble efforts to teach listening skills to 5-year-olds. But as my daughter and her classmates get older, they will run into thornier dilemmas, our era’s version of old questions: Are some divides too great for common humanity to bridge? When we attempt to step into the shoes of those very different from us, do we do more harm than good? At the same time, trends in American education have worked at cross-purposes, nurturing social and emotional learning in some ways, hampering it in others.

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