Richard Weissbourd is a Senior Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he directs the Human Development and Psychology Program, and a Lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. His work focuses on moral development, vulnerability and resilience in childhood and effective schools and services for children. With Stephanie Jones, he directs the Making Caring Common Project, a national effort to make moral and social development priorities in child-raising and to provide strategies to schools and parents for promoting in children caring, a commitment to justice and other key moral and social capacities. He is currently conducting research on how older adults can better mentor young adults and teenagers in developing ethical, mature romantic relationships. He is a founder of several interventions for at-risk children, including ReadBoston and WriteBoston, city-wide literacy initiatives. He co-founded Project ASPIRE, a social and ethical development intervention in schools and is also a founder of a pilot school in Boston, the Lee Academy that begins with children at age three.
He has advised on the city, state and federal levels on family policy and school reform and has written for numerous scholarly and popular publications, including The New York Times, The Huffington Post, CNN, The New Republic, The American Prospect, NPR and Psychology Today. He is the author of The Vulnerable Child: What Really Hurts America’s Children and What We Can Do About It, named by the American School Board Journal as one of the top 10 education books of all time. His most recent book, The Parents We Mean to Be: How Well-Intentioned Adults Undermine Children’s Moral and Emotional Development, was named by The New Yorker as one of the top 24 books of 2009.
His talk will describe concrete practices at the heart of being an effective moral mentor. It will also outline how children’s moral growth is tied to our moral growth as parents and teachers and why intense focus on happiness and achievement– and the constant praising of kids that goes with it– can imperil the development of kids’ moral qualities.