4 Proven Strategies for Teaching Empathy
The capacity to comprehend and identify with the emotions of another person is referred to as empathy. It is possible for empathy to improve the quality of individual lives while also contributing to the advancement of positive social change in communities and educational institutions all over the world. There are currently two common approaches to empathy utilised in the field of psychology. These approaches are shared emotional response and perspective taking.
A shared emotional response, also known as affective empathy, takes place when an individual experiences the same emotions as another person. An illustration of this can be seen in our own lives when a group of Marcus’ friends cheered him on as he crossed the finish line of a half-marathon. They mimicked his stance by raising their arms in the air in the same way that he did. One more illustration of this form of empathy is when members of the audience unconsciously smile along with the speaker.
When a person is able to put themselves in the shoes of another individual, they are demonstrating a skill known as perspective taking, which is also referred to as cognitive empathy. In the film “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Atticus Finch, played by Gregory Peck, has a pivotal conversation with his daughter, Scout, in which he tells her, “If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks.” You will never truly understand a person until you consider things from his point of view; until you “climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” “You will never truly understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.”
The following are some strategies that our graduates use with their students all over the world to help develop both affective and cognitive empathy in their students.
Teachers have the ability to serve as models for their students by leading by example and demonstrating the importance of empathy in interpersonal relationships. Individuals in the class are prompted to show concern for the sentiments of their classmates by the instructor. When teachers demonstrate how to maintain a positive attitude while learning, students are more likely to learn in an optimistic and self-assured manner.
TEACHING POINT OF VIEW
The students will learn about the validity of various points of view through the use of the numbers 6 and 9. Ask the students to look at the number 6 first, then move on to the number 9 after that. Explain to the students that the idea for this activity came from an old legend that took place in the Middle East and involved two princes who were at war with each other for a long period of time. Both princes looked at the image on the table, and while one of them said it was a 6, the other said it was a 9. The conflict raged for many years, until one day, when both princes were seated at the table, a young boy turned the tablecloth over. At that moment, both princes were able to understand the situation from the perspective of the other. The war was eventually won, and the two princes quickly became the best of friends.
Provide an illustration using a situation from your own life in which something comparable occurred, such as you getting into an argument with somebody simply because they held a different point of view, and explain how you handled the situation.
Ask the students to form small groups and discuss how important it is to understand that many people will disagree with us simply because they have a different point of view. Discuss how important it is to understand that. Recap the comments made by the students.
USING LITERATURE TO TEACH DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES
Literature can be an effective tool for helping students see a situation from a variety of angles when used in the classroom setting. For instance, everybody is familiar with the fairy tale “The Three Little Pigs.” It’s easy for us to feel sorry for the pigs because we perceive the wolf to be a vicious foe, but is it also possible to look at the situation from the wolf’s perspective? In his book, “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs,” Jon Scieszka does just that with the familiar fairy tale about the three piglets. In this humorous retelling, the wolf didn’t huff and puff to blow the pigs’ houses down; instead, he suffered from a terrible allergy and, while stopping by to borrow a cup of sugar, accidentally blew the houses down with a big and powerful sneeze. In the original story, the wolf blew the houses down by huffing and puffing.
LISTENING ACTIVELY TO OTHERS
It can be challenging to actively listen to another person, which is one of the most common reasons why empathic relationships struggle. As a result, people frequently fail to listen to one another when they are talking to one another. We devised the HEAR strategy as a means of assisting students in recognising distracting background noise and diverting their attention to one another in order to better listen to one another. The following are the stages that make up the HEAR strategy:
Stop whatever else you are doing, bring an end to the conversation you are having with yourself about other thoughts, and clear your mind so that you can give the person speaking your full attention.
Engage: Pay attention to the person speaking. As a physical reminder to focus entirely on the person speaking, we recommend that you turn your head ever-so-slightly to the right so that your right ear is facing in that direction. This will help you concentrate on what is being said.
Anticipate: By acknowledging that you will probably learn something new and interesting by looking forward to what the speaker has to say, you are increasing your motivation to listen, which is a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Reconsider: Give some thought to what it is that the speaker is saying. Consider providing your own analysis and paraphrasing of what was said, either to the presenter or to your fellow students, or both. It will be easier for you to comprehend what the speaker is trying to communicate with you if you play back what you have heard and discuss it with yourself.
BEING METACOGNITIVE ABOUT ONE’S STATE OF EMPATHY
Be conscious of the thoughts and feelings you have about your capacity to understand and empathise with the experiences of other people. Throughout our lives, each of us has the potential to become better at taking on the perspective of others if we cultivate our metacognitive awareness.
When we work with students to develop their capacity for empathy, we are assisting them in expanding the range of opportunities available to them for achievement in school and in other facets of their lives. This important ability warrants more of our focus and attention.