Empathy comes naturally to
humans. The human brain has mirror neurons that allow humans to recognize
another person’s emotions by actually “feeling” them. Critical human traits
from caring for the young to social bonding to activism can be traced back to empathy.
But, recent studies have also shown a strong correlation between learning
capacity and empathy. This is a development that schools should take note of
and utilize to improve the climate in the school. Here is how empathy improves
cognitive abilities and hence the propensity to learn.
counters stress. When students understand others and feel that they are
understood, it creates a positive environment. They do not get into meaningless
arguments or feel judged, and hence, do not feel stressed.
negatively correlated with brain development. It affects the prefrontal cortex,
which is responsible for memory, reasoning, and self-control. Therefore, it
naturally has an effect on the learning abilities of a child.
Creates a Thriving Learning Environment
Empathy is a
precursor to good behavior. Empathetic students do not bully and make others
suffer. They also do not stand in the corner while others get bullied. They
stand up to bullies and help others in raising their voices. No wonder that
empathy leads to positive peer relationships, less conflict among students,
improved communication skills, and holistic development of students.
On the other
hand, students who do not develop empathy are unable to understand others,
which can be linked to negative behaviors like interpersonal conflicts,
aggression, emotional problems, and more.
A school that
encourages learning empathy creates a safe and fertile environment for every
student. Each student is then able to express themselves and grow up to realize
Maximizes Teachers’ Efficacy
Students and teachers are both
equally important participants of the school system. Learning in a school can
be effective only if its teachers are effective. A school that encourages empathy
not only helps its students but also its teachers as well. Empathy helps a
teacher be a better instructor. It helps the student understand what the
teacher is trying to convey. So, it can be inferred that empathy is as good a
teaching aid as any, and hence a potent tool for learning.
Can Empathy be Taught?
While all humans have it in them
to be empathetic, only a few can or do actually practice it. Like any other
skill, empathy can indeed be taught, but it requires practice. Empathy can
unlock the dormant potential of a school. Schools should teach programs like
SEL Adventures at school so that their students can learn more and excel in
Empathy helps students to evolve into thoughtful and helpful individuals who contribute to society. It encourages students to learn more, work better in teams, and steer clear of bullying. Empathetic children are confident in their own skin, so they ask more doubts in class, talk to more people, enroll in extracurricular activities, and develop into wholesome individuals. With such widespread benefits, teachers naturally want their students to acquire this invaluable skill, and here is how they can do it.
Creating Opportunities to Learn
Teachers should think of activities beyond the classroom to build empathy. A personal experience is going to be a much more impactful educational experience than reading tens of books. Teachers should take their students out more often so that they can meet individuals from different walks of life. This will help them understand the fact that life is much more than what they experience at home and school. It will humble them and help them understand life from different perspectives.
Structured programs like SEL Adventures are a huge help to teachers in the endeavor to teach their students empathy. These programs include complete lectures on helping students understand the nuances of empathy, how it is an important skill in life, and how students can cultivate it. SEL Adventures also includes practice activities to help students visualize and learn quickly. Such programs make learning fun. In these activities, students will actively attempt to learn empathy as the opportunity to experience it is presented to them in an exciting way.
Leading By Example
Leaders across the board understand the importance of leading by example, and the same applies in a classroom environment as well. Teachers should become more empathetic in their approach to students. They can do so by understanding the problems of their students, demonstrating compassion, and keeping a positive attitude. This will provide them the much-needed role models they need to get inspired from to learn empathy.
Highlight Similarities & Differences
Teachers can help students find similarities within their groups. They can help them understand that we all share many similarities despite our differences. Students should understand and learn to discuss differences in a safe environment. Individual and group differences should be interpreted as rich opportunities to learn an entirely new perspective. Students should be taught to seek people who are ‘different’ from who they are and learn from them instead of running away from them. This is a powerful technique that will give way to empathy.
Empathy is a skill that everyone should learn. It leads to a more evolved classroom, school, and eventually, community. Teachers have always been an instrument of change in society. They should use one or more of these strategies to help their students develop an empathetic mindset – a mindset that will help them grow to be emotionally intelligent and successful in life.
Teachers can find out more strategies and techniques to teach empathy to their students from https://sel-adventures.com/en/programs.
Social- emotional learning helps in developing the emotional quotient, which helps students in creating a healthier environment for learning more and improving IQ.
A recent study across US schools brought out startling
results. Students and educators in schools were asked how they would describe
their time in school.
Students answered – Tired, stressed, and bored
Educators answered – Frustrated, stressed, and overwhelmed
The survey was conducted across 22,000 students and 6,000
educators in the United States by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.
It is clear that the current style of learning is not boding well for students
or the teachers. It cannot lead to a healthy or an optimum learning
environment. The pressure to do well in school is taking its toll on everyone.
Social emotional learning is a part of the solution that can help to improve
the school environment by improving both the IQ and the EQ among students.
Social-emotional learning helps students understand their emotions and of those around them. When they feel bored, they can actually look inward and find the reasons for it. This kind of exercise will help them build self-awareness. This is the first step to developing a higher EQ. When they know the root cause of their boredom, they can either eliminate it or find something that actually interests them. When they focus all their energy on something they enjoy learning, it will help them look at problems differently and find innovative solutions. This will help them hone their problem solving skills and their IQ.
Social-emotional learning does not only help students to be aware of their emotions, but also become sensitive to the non-verbal cues that people around them show. With empathy, they will be able to develop positive peer relationships. Such positive peer relationships will also encourage them to come to school regularly and provide them an avenue to share their feelings as well as ideas. They do not need to feel stressed anymore. With such a healthy environment at school, they will learn more academically too.
As their positive peer relationships at school multiply,
they will learn to work in teams. Irrespective of the task at hand or the
difficulty of the impending exams, they will never feel overwhelmed. The social
emotional learning has helped them to create a support system at school which
always has their back. This is the kind of support that will take away undue
pressure from their mind and help them perform well.
Social-Emotional Learning is Critical for Students
Social-emotional learning directly helps in improving the EQ of the students and indirectly has a positive impact on their IQ as well. SEL Adventures has created targeted programs for middle schoolers to help them develop social and emotional skills that will not just help them do better in school, but help them succeed in their careers, relationships, and other spheres of life.
Friendships are important for the social and emotional
development of a child. With kids spending most of their time in schools, they
form most of their friendships there too. However, it is not easy for all kids;
some find it challenging to make friends. If not addressed in time, the problem
can snowball and result in lonely, socially awkward and emotionally
underdeveloped children. Schools can help these students by adopting programs
like SEL Adventures in their classrooms. Here are the skills a student needs to
learn to form rewarding friendships.
Finding their people
Students should be able to identify individuals who can
become their good friends. These are their peers who see them as equals, accept
them for who they are, and have similar interests to them. Parents, teachers,
or even the children themselves should not forcibly try to fit into a
friendship for other superficial reasons.
Better Non-Verbal Communication
Non-verbal cues are crucial. The child should be taught to
have an approachable and welcoming demeanor. These include smiling, maintaining
eye contact, standing straight, and more.
Encourage the child to take the initiative and take the
first step towards friendship. They can ask a prospective friend to sit at
their table for lunch, join a game they play, or invite them to other
Showing Interest & Sharing
Teach the child to be a good listener. While they should
talk about themselves, they should also show interest in the life of their new
friend. This makes the other person feel valued and gives them an avenue to
share their emotions.
It is difficult for some kids to celebrate the achievements
of their contemporaries. But, guide students to feel happy about the accomplishment
of a friend. Celebrating their friend’s achievements makes the bond stronger
and sets a foundation for the support system that friendship eventually becomes.
A bond like friendship also requires students to put themselves
in their friend’s shoes and understand what they are going through and how they
can help. It can be challenging for many to empathize, but it is a skill that
can be acquired over time.
It is easy to run from problems. But, students should learn
how to face difficulties in their friendships and find an amicable solution
that saves the relationship and makes it stronger. Thinking of different ways
to resolve problems can prove to be a highly useful life skill for students later
in life too.
It is easy to find faults in another person, but being kind
requires strength. Once students learn how to empathize and resolve conflicts,
kindness follows. But, it can also be learnt by practicing. Students can help
their parents do house chores without asking, put out water for animals, or
Teach them Well
Friendships help students to become socially and emotionally intelligent. SEL Adventures assists the school in teaching students the necessary skills to make friends through classroom instructions, a gamified learning experience, and a performance tracker. SEL Adventures helps schools to coach students to become fully-formed and functioning individuals who go on to live a fulfilling life and become an asset to the community.