Professor Richard Weissbroud, Harvard faculty director of Human Development and Psychology in the School of Education, recently presented data on children and their parents which leaves him very disturbed about the culture we have built, including the culture at Harvard. It is well worth watching.
When ranking personal achievement vs. personal happiness vs. being a caring person only 20 percent of our children rank ‘being a caring person’ as the highest goal — a drastic drop from prior generations. But when their parents rank their goals for their children, being a caring person is ranked in first place by a significant majority. However when their children are asked what they think their parents chief aspirations for them are most (60%) think their parents want them to be achieving rather than caring. Only 15 % think their parents rank ‘being a caring person’ as #1. Finally most parents in ranking other parents think other parents rank achievement over caring. That is most parents think other parents are the problem. However their children see through that and most put their parents in the same place as all the other parents.
His conclusion: we no longer foster being caring. This holds true even at Harvard for Harvard. He concludes: “…it is one route [as to] why we are living in such a fractured, polarized and nasty and uncivil political and civil time in this country.”
Though professor Weissbroud sees the powerful and positive role of religion — which is great to see in an eminent academic — he very clearly does not want to advocate religious practice. Instead he says we must seek a secular, non-religious way.
My conclusion: He is a caring social scientist doing great diagnostic work who drops his science (and really becomes less caring) when it comes to intervention. Ironic. But, as he said, Harvard has its shortcomings. Sometimes caring takes courage. However it would be tough, especially at Harvard.