Specials Free Resources
NVC Quick Connect
Character Education That Really Counts
By Tiffany Meyer


Four years at Riverview Elementary have taught eight-year-old Lydia Castro a lot about character. Words like responsibility, respect, trustworthiness and compassion are partnered with clear rules about right and wrong behavior in the school’s “Character Counts” education program -- one of many nationally recognized programs implemented in schools throughout the U.S. and Canada. Keep reading this article >>

Ask the Author Column
Answered by PuddleDancer Press authors


Submit your top question now and it may be answered in an upcoming issue by one of our many experienced and knowledgeable authors. All questions remain completely anonymous. Tell us your biggest challenges or submit your question about learning or living te NVC consciousness at work, home and in your community. Submit your question now >>


NVC Starter Kit
NVC Educator Book Package
4-Title Package - Various Authors
Product details
List Price: $62.80
Your Price: $31.00
Save 50% thru August 31, 2008

Add to Cart


Free Weekly Tips Series:

Living Compassion Tips
••Compassionate Parenting Tips
••Compassionate Educator Tips
••7 Peaceful Living Meditations

PDF Downloads:

Key Facts About NVC
Articles About NVC


"In our culture, most of us have been trained to ignore our own wants and discount our needs."

Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D.

Play Video Now

An Inspiring Video
You'll Never Forget

World-renowned author, peacemaker, and conflict resolution expert, Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D. talks about the keys to prevent all forms of conflict and violence in this 10-minute video.


Character Education That Really Counts, continued

While stats show that character education programs are lowering incidents of violent behavior, conflict and bullying in schools, Compassionate Communication proponents Sura Hart and Victoria Kindle Hodson ask an important question -- what is the real reason for the student’s change in behavior?

“When we teach children about character, it’s often in terms of should, have to, ought to, duty and obligation, which are all subtle expressions of violence,” says Sura Hart, co-author with Victoria Hodson of The No-Fault Classroom and The Compassionate Classroom. Children who are motivated to act based on ideas of good and bad, are acting from a language of obligation.

“That gives a person only two options: submit or rebel,” say Hart and Hodson. “Either way, there’s a high cost.”

While students in this capacity will most likely choose to submit from fear of punishment (or even the shame of a label), such motivation fails to teach children to act from an intrinsic desire to contribute to each other’s well being. More importantly, it doesn’t provide children with the specific communication skills needed to express themselves without resorting to verbal or physical violence.

Hart and Hodson suggest an even more effective alternative — teach kids to understand the basic human needs behind all actions, and “arm” them with an “emotional vocabulary” so they are empowered to resolve conflict and choose more positive methods for getting their own needs met.

In The Compassionate Classroom, Hart and Hodson provide educators with dozens of lessons and activities to teach the simple yet powerful Nonviolent or Compassionate Communication (NVC) process.

The NVC process differs from most character education programs by teaching students and educators an emotional vocabulary — words to describe feelings (absent of judgment or blame), and words to describe our wants/hopes/needs at any given time. Using the full process of NVC, students learn to move beyond common patterns of judgment, evaluation or right versus wrong labeling.

With the NVC process, students learn to take more responsibility for their own feelings, rather than blame their feelings on the actions of others. By learning about the basic human needs we all have in common, students learn to use empathy and to express their own feelings in terms of the met or unmet needs that are triggering our emotions. The result is a deeper connection to the people and world around them, particularly in times of conflict.

“Integrity and obedience are not the same thing, yet we often use them interchangeably when it comes to character education,” say Hart and Hodson. “We need to go back and ask ourselves two crucial questions. First, how do we want our children to behave? That question is as far as most people go. Do your best. Turn your work in on time. Sit quietly. Don’t cheat.”

“But that first question is meaningless without a second: What do we want their reasons to be for behaving in that way? Answering the second question is vital if children are to learn not just to recite a checklist of good behavior that’s expected when others are watching, but if we want them to live into those values fully, as discerning and compassionate human beings.”

Sura Hart and Victoria Kindle Hodson are the authors of The Compassionate Classroom; Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids; and The No-Fault Classroom.

Keep learning these vital communication skills with these books and training resources:




"Integrity and obedience
are not the same thing.
Yet we often use them interchangeably when it comes to character education."

- Sura Hart and
Victoria Kindle Hodson