Friday there was the Think It Up http://thinkitup.org special on 4 or 5 TV networks. THINK IT UP will invite public school students in grades 7-12 to develop student-powered, teacher-led, crowdfunded learning projects.
One of the segments was Changemaker High School in Tuscon, part of the Start Empathy initiative. It starts with empathy and then encourages students to be leaders in their communities. This did a lot to get the word out about the importance of empathy in the schools.
More educators are recognizing that compassion can be taught. But I don't think it's enough to have children just learn about compassion, because we need to embody our ethical beliefs by acting on them. This begins with empathy.
There are three main kinds of empathy, each involving distinct sets of brain circuits.
1: Cognitive empathy: understanding how other people see the world and how they think about it. This lets us put what we have to say in ways the other person will best comprehend....
Empathetic concern offers the foundation for what's been called a "caring classroom," where the teacher embodies and models kindness and concern for her students, and encourages the same attitude among the students. Such a classroom culture provides the best atmosphere for learning, both cognitively and emotionally.
Ideally, empathy would be the net effect of experience, which in classrooms is both a matter of process and knowledge. Students would learn to empathize rather than be taught to empathize, as a symptom of what they know. Why this is important is a matter of implication and language.
Teaching someone to feel what others feel and sit with emotions that aren’t their own couldn’t be any further from the inherent pattern of academics, which is always decidedly other.
Teaching always begins with detachment—learn this skill or content strand that is now apart from you. Empathy is the opposite; it starts in the other, and finishes there without leaving.
In your classroom, there are dozens of natural sources of empathy. But what about authenticity?
Think of a student who has stood out to you this past year. When you closed your classroom door for the year, who had you really wanted to get through to but didn’t? Who made progress that completely blew your mind?
Choose a student and write their name at the top of your whiteboard /paper (you can write an alias if you would like).
Then, make three categories: ‘Adjectives’, ‘Challenges’, and ‘Passions & Interests’:
This totem exercise is intended to develop empathy for your student by describing them, their challenges and passions, creating a physical representation of them in the form of a totem, and then creating a point of view statement about their challenges and needs
. This all serves as a launching point for designing great curriculum and classroom experiences for them throughout the year.
You can do the exercise with a group of teachers and create a living gallery that you can add to and revisit any time you need throughout the year.
Empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Quite a simple concept when you think of it. But how much importance do we really put on this, especially when working with young people, the one group of individuals that probably need to understand the concept the most?
My understanding of empathy grew whilst working in a large secondary school. Sprawling and multicultural, this educational setting supported some of the most deprived families in the area. From my first day I was exposed to huge and fundamental issues of poverty, abuse and mental health difficulties that young people were experiencing first hand. It was devastating. But it was also a revelation.
But as my colleague Leonard Medlock says, you have to be careful when finding free alternatives online, because it can lead to a “proliferation of design thinking sans any notions of empathy or learning from failure.”
Keep in mind, design thinking--problem discovery and solution generation using empathy and rapid prototyping, described as “human-centered design”--isn’t something you can just implement in a classroom lesson plan with your students right away.
You’ve got to work on the skills and mindsets yourself first, and develop an openness to iteration and a willingness to be truly honest.
In my work as a systems change specialist in schools and other learning communities, here are the practices I encourage instructional leaders to promote:
Teach listening as a core skill and expect it as a cultural practice. Start by being an active listener yourself and give people the time they need to reflect. Time not made for someone is time wasted.
Make dialogue a primary team, group or classroom practice. Dialogue opens the doors to exploration—what Peter Senge in his guide “The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook” calls “skillful discussion,” where thoughtful decisions can be made that honor all participants (or, in business, stakeholders).
Identify roles, not organizational charts. When people are able to articulate their role, what they need to be successful and what gets in the way of their success, an empathic understanding is present and the beginnings of a healthy team, class or group takes shape.
Lead with consistency, authenticity and honesty. Be clear as to why you are doing what you are doing. Do not lead or manage through personality but rather through articulation. To articulate is to clarify.
This post is Part 2 of a 2 Part Series on Design Thinking Students Designing Their Own School.
In my vast research spanning history, politics, psychology, philosophy, neuroscience, mindful awareness, and pedagogy, I've found a dearth of empathy and compassion.
Most alarming is the absence of empathy and compassion for students and educators who are oppressed by ineffective educational practices. I introduced the concept of Educational Trauma, to explain the inadvertent perpetration and perpetuation of victimization against producers and consumers of educational systems.
And, this month, Pedagogies of Kindness and Respect, a textbook for pre-service teachers went to press. It includes a chapter I wrote that explores our students' answer to this problem: EmpathicEducation for a CompassionateNation: A Pedagogy for Kindness and Respect for Healing Educational Trauma.
Unless you’re off the grid, you saw evidence Friday evening. Think It Up, a celebrity-studded production, was broadcast across four major national television networks to raise money for our schools. Along with initiatives dedicated to improving STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education, it highlighted the work of Start Empathy, which prioritizes changemaking and empathy skills in school curricula and culture. This is a fast-growing movement, with an emerging Changemaker Schools network in the United States and worldwide. Tucson’s Changemaker High School was featured in the broadcast.
Why changemaking, and why empathy? Because the game for young people has changed, and so have the rules.
For generations, society had a distinctive organizational design characterized by a few people at the top of the system telling everyone else to repeat their specialized skills harmoniously, faster and faster. American education was therefore oriented toward turning out the company clerks and factory workers that our hierarchical, repetitive system required.
A reader emailed me and asked for a list of books which would help her child to think a little bit less about worldly goods, and a little more about the importance of appreciating non-tangible values like generosity, humility, compassion and kindness.
In other words, these are books which help teach children to reject a sense of privileged entitlement. (And I use the word “entitlement” in its original meaning, not the way it was co-opted by the Tea Party!)
Many educators enter the profession with a sense of altruism. When talented, student-centered educators are given the support they deserve, empathy-based learning opportunities naturally emerge.
Can Empathy Be Taught?
Maybe teaching empathy directly is not our job. Perhaps our job is to provide the fertile ground, to nurture the seeds that are already there. We create experiences and opportunities for empathy to not only be cultivated but to become actionable....
If we want to actualize empathy — to make feelings tangible — then we must move away from cells and bells toward a place where agency matters.
So much talk about empathy in education recently. Why? What’s the big idea? In “The Role of Empathy in Learning,” I wrote:
“The role of empathy in learning has to do with the flow of both information and creativity. A dialogic interaction with the world around us requires us to understand ourselves by understanding the needs and condition of those around us. It also encourages us to take collective measurements rather than those singular, forcing us into an intellectual interdependence that catalyzes other subtle but powerful tools of learning.”
But where does it come from? What causes it? What are the authentic sources of empathy in a classroom?'
WHAT is an empathy map? A User Empathy Map can help tee up a discussion about the needs a user has. The discussion will be centered around what was observed, and what can be inferred about these user groups’ beliefs and emotions
Why use an empathy MapGood design is grounded in a deep understanding of the person for whom you are designing. Designers have many techniques for developing this sort of empathy. An Empathy Map is one tool to help us synthesize our observations and draw out unexpected insights.
We teach it as a synthesis tool to help quickly uncover latent user needs. By introducing this synthesis tool and others, students are provided with tools to help them quickly go through their notes from needfinding in the field to distill down to what are the golden nuggets of opportunity.
We’re just at the beginning of what EmpathyLab will be doing and the difference it will be making to children’s lives. Find out more about our thinking, research and reading that is informing our development.
19m 45sec the primary goal of design thinking is to prototype, but I think the biggest goal it is to develop empathy and take the perspective of others. You launch a bunch of kids like that into the world, and it is going to be a better place https://vimeo.com/120727536#t=19m45
The principal is supportive: This person is child oriented, is an effective listener, provides staff with numerous opportunities to work collaboratively, encouraging innovative efforts, and is available to those who wish to speak with him or her.
Social skills are taught and modeled : Whatever social behaviors are practiced by the adults in the school will not only be observed and experienced by the students but will be learned by them as well.
Mindfulness is cultivated as a daily practice and connected to empathy in practice. “Mindfulness is a conscious, purposeful way of tuning in to what is happening in and around us.” (Schoeberlein)
Since that day, empathy has become my touchstone in everything I do. I have created lessons, given talks, conducted workshops, and been interviewed numerous times on the subject of empathy.
Often, when working with others on this topic, it feels as if on that early winter’s day in 1989, in that small elementary school built in the 1930’s, I was given a glimpse into my life’s work: to teach how empathy in practice brings to life one of life’s greatest lessons: To treat others the way you would like to be treated.
From elementary through high school, research demonstrates a relationship between empathic abilities and effective teaching. When teachers are more empathic, the positive outcomes are significant: Improved academic effort, achievement, motivation, self-esteem and empathy in students, increased likelihood of teacher intervening in a bullying situation, improved cultural sensitivity and reduced prejudice and racial bias, more productive and satisfying school relationships, and more likely to hold a positive perception of school culture. When school leaders, as managers are more empathy, their staff is healthier, happier, and perceives them as more effective leaders.
Clearly, empathy is a skill that every educator should have in their toolbox, yet unfortunately, educators are not formally taught how to communicate empathically.
That is why on March 10th, 2015 FuelEd will be launching Empathy School, or “E-School.” E-School, a 6-hour in-person workshop by FuelEd where educators learn the communication skill of empathy, is designed to fill this gap in educator preparation by training educators in a key relationship skill that will drive student outcomes and positive school culture.
Sharing your scoops to your social media accounts is a must to distribute your curated content. Not only will it drive traffic and leads through your content, but it will help show your expertise with your followers.
How to integrate my topics' content to my website?
Integrating your curated content to your website or blog will allow you to increase your website visitors’ engagement, boost SEO and acquire new visitors. By redirecting your social media traffic to your website, Scoop.it will also help you generate more qualified traffic and leads from your curation work.
Distributing your curated content through a newsletter is a great way to nurture and engage your email subscribers will developing your traffic and visibility.
Creating engaging newsletters with your curated content is really easy.