Empathy Everywhere!

Is it just me or does it happen to you too, that when you start looking into something – in my case, Empathy – that it keeps appearing everywhere?!

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I am well aware that empathy is not a new concept, a term I have coined, or something people have never thought of before in relation to education. What I am noticing is that more and more people seem to be writing and sharing ideas on the concept that empathy can drive education. And many of these people are teachers in IB (PYP/MYP/DP) schools. Which is surprising when the idea of empathy is built in to the foundations of the IBO curriculum framework via their mission statement:

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Aside from the mention of being knowledgeable – and by this I am going to assume means ‘having knowledge’ or ‘being well informed’, the other key points mentioned are being active (and by this, I am to assume means physically active and both as a participant in their own learning and one that takes action on issues of importance), compassionate, peaceful, respectful, caring, intercultural, and understanding of differences. In one word: Empathetic.

So, why is this not a greater driving force than the bullet points of ‘knowledge’ that make up the curriculum frameworks?  I am not saying knowledge is not important, but I am saying that if we expect all these things from our students, we are going to have to get better at explicitly teaching or mentioning or embedding these components of empathy than we currently are. Our students are pretty great, but I believe they still need to see empathy explained explicitly and modelled consistently within a range of contexts.

How does this look in ‘real life’? I’m still working on that! 🙂 But stay tuned…I have been thinking about it for a while now along with obviously loads of other people and it is more than possible – we just have to be prepared to start.

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