Sunday, February 10, 2013

A City Education: Students Need Empathy

"Empathy—the ability to envision yourself in another person's place—requires patience and an open mind. It shouldn’t be confused with sympathy. "I feel sorry for you" is a sympathetic response to someone's struggle; the empathic response is "I feel your pain."

Through empathy, we strive to show students that everyone is worthy of respect. It's easy to get frustrated with a student who’s slacking off or acting out. By empathizing with them though, we show understanding of their difficulties and appreciation for their efforts. Students who are shown respect have a much easier time respecting others. They're also much more likely to respect themselves enough to try their best at school.

Empathy is similarly vital for teaching socio-emotional skills. For example, when my teammates and I see students putting each other down, we try to avoid simply telling them off. We prefer to start a conversation on where the putdowns are coming from."

From "A City Education: Students Need Empathy"