Empathy – A Fast Receding Quality; The Role of Schools?

“Our phones fall, we panic

Our friends fall, we laugh”,

This is indeed an increasingly common real life situation. An example of ‘empathy‘ – a precious quality, fast becoming scarce.

Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within. i.e. the capacity to place oneself in another’s shoes. Everyone is born with the capacity of feeling empathy. It is the cornerstone of human behaviour, but today, studies show that empathy levels have been declining over the past 30 years with an especially steep drop in the last 10.

Hence, empathy needs to be a central piece in every school setting. There are only benefits to be derived by incorporating empathy into a classroom. Here’s why:

Creates a positive classroom:

We have diverse students in the classroom everyday. Through empathy, students learn to understand each other’s differences which help them build friendships based on positive relationships of trust. Taking the time to demonstrate empathy can also help student-teacher relationships. Studies show that schools which intentionally incorporate empathy into the curriculum have better test results.

Empathy taught in schools
Empathy taught in schools

Strengthens community:

Empathy sets students up to deeper relationships with their classmates and people outside school as well. Due to increased globalization, these people may be from different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. As students learn empathy skills in the class, this transfers into their lives in the community. The deep relationships that develop have the potential to strengthen a community and build trust, thereby extending way beyond the four walls of a classroom.

Inculcates leadership qualities:

Understanding how others feel is not only required in the classroom or at home. Empathy prepares students to become leaders in community. Leaders must understand the people that they lead and be able to show that they care. Studies show that empathy is positively related to performance. Student leaders must be able to feel for others whom they lead in order to make them feel valued. This will strengthen the trust between students and their leaders, and will lead to good discipline and a better atmosphere in school. These leaders will definitely be the future leaders in their communities too.

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