I am a big proponent of STEAM-style education. That is, an education that focuses on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. This philosophy values the vigorous pursuit of knowledge in the STEAM fields while helping students to identify and make the connections between and across all subject areas including the arts and humanities.

The goal is to foster the development of innovation that comes with combining the thinking of a scientist or technologist with that of an artist. Ideally, with this type of education, students are able to engage in the flexible thinking, risk-taking and creative problem solving needed to solve today’s most complex societal challenges from healthcare reform to urban revitalization to troublesome environmental dilemmas.

Five Ways Parents Can Cultivate Compassion and Empathy:

1. Show unconditional love to your children, so that they are immersed in empathy and compassion, and so that they know that you love them and accept them for who they are as unique individuals.

2. Be a role model and show compassion and empathy towards others so that your kids can see it in action. A parent might say, “Your brother seems upset. Let’s ask him what we can do to help him.” Or “Dad hurt his back. Let’s ask him if we can get him an ice pack to make him feel better.”

3. Reduce exposure to violent film, television programs and video games, and discuss why violence and bullying is wrong.

4. Teach your kids how to be peacemakers and teach them how to fairly mediate disputes so that they can learn how people with differences can listen to each other in mutually respectful and productive ways.

5. Give kids opportunities to practice compassion and empathy. For example, during a sibling dispute encourage kids can put themselves in another’s shoes to gain perspective as to where the other sibling’s anger and frustration is coming from. Compassion can be exercised as a child sifts through books to donate to another child who has never had books to call his own