Interesting Article on Teaching Empathy

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Obadiah, Oct 26, 2017.

  1. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Oct 26, 2017

    At the doctor's office today I was reading the October issue of Web MD. On page 58 is an excellent article on teaching kids empathy.
     
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  3. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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  4. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    Last edited: Oct 27, 2017
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  5. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Can you teach empathy? I know narcissists don't have empathy, and the main reason that they cannot change or "be cured" is because you cannot acquire something like empathy. You can fake it, but not have it. At least this s what I have gathered over the past 2 years since I' had met my ex, a narcissistic sociopath.
     
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  6. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Oct 27, 2017

    At the very least you can NOT teach it as the statistics today are clearly showing.
     
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  7. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    I would think it would be something that needs to be addressed in preschool. I know some kids that were in my daughter's K class never caught on to it.
     
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  8. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I certainly think you can teach empathy, but the more accurate word may be "facilitating" it. Service-learning, for example, encourages people to empathize with those struggling in a particular area. As humans, most of us at least are fundamentally wired for empathy. We may feel it or activate it less because of how our lives are structured, but I've certainly experienced the development of my own empathy and seen others grow in that area as well.
     
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  9. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Oct 27, 2017

    This mentions a very good book called Unselfie. For those who have some empathy, it can increase empathy. I know I had some teachers who helped me to foster more empathy for others and be less selfish. True, those without any empathy might be a lost cause (some psychopaths), but most (and for some teachers possibly all) students we teach could increase their empathy at least some.
     
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  10. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Oct 28, 2017

    Our discussion seems to be centering on whether or not empathy can be taught, facilitated (good point EdEd), or not. This seems to be enveloped in the question of behavior being genetically or environmentally influenced. Personally, I wonder if empathy is both a genetic and an environmental trait. The above discussion caused me to recall Stephen Pinker's discussion in one of his books on how languages evolve, and I'm seeing a further relationship with empathetic development. People are born with an initial amount of linguistic ability. (Related to this is an inborn mathematical ability, also). Social environments increase this linguistic ability. Now the connection I'm seeing with empathy.

    Language is communication and communication is a social activity. The social situations a person is in not only develop language and communication but develop how that communication is used and why it is used. This begins at birth and continues throughout one's life. Empathizing with others may begin as an inward form of communication or even a reaction to communication. A person relates another's plight or euphoria to her/himself, and this often results in an outward communication of trying to relieve another's burden or rejoicing in another's happiness. Above, I referred to mathematical learning: spatial and arithmetic thinking is also involved in inward empathy and outward actions. (For example: I have 2 apples but the other person only has 1. Should I cut my extra apple in half)?

    A quick further point on the relationship between linguistic communication and empathy. Language is more than just words. I've recently read and seen demonstrated in workshops how human linguistic communication also involves spatial movement, visual facial expressions, and auditory inflections. Reception of communication also involves the same and also results in feelings associated with the communication. For example, if a person is crying, my own face will unconsciously slightly alter its expression to a form of sadness and this facilitates my brain in perceiving the sadness. The same thing happens if the communicator is expressing anger or elation. Communication also can involve spatial movement such as a hand on a shoulder (which increases brain chemical responses even more than mere words), shaking hands, walking around the room (both communicator and receiver), but also can include negative spatial movement such as a slap on the face. So what I'm thinking, pondering actually, is that empathy is experienced and expressed through communication, communication is both a linguistic and mathematical activity, and empathy therefore seems to be developed through genetic and environmental learning of communication..
     
  11. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Oct 29, 2017

    One quick further comment, to be sure I'm not misunderstood within my last post, although communication and math are genetic, personally, from what I've seen in research, I think actual empathy and empathetic responses are environmentally developed.
     
  12. EdEd

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    Obadiah very interesting thoughts/comments on language, both as an unrelated example of human development, but also as a vehicle for things like empathy. I certainly agree, and often refer back to the "diathesis-stress" model of psychological development in which there are underlying or predispositional traits (diathesis) which then encounter the environment (stress), leading to the actual presentation of behavior in that area. So, one could be predisposed to more or less empathy, but then that empathy is cultivated more or less in one's environment.

    On your broader language point, I think is particularly relevant, for example, with reading comprehension - understanding that reading comprehension is so much more broad than simply the words on the paper, but is really tapping into general language comprehension.
     
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  13. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Oct 30, 2017

    This week especially, I've been wondering if the lessening amount of reading kids (and adults) are experiencing and the diminishing of actual oral communication might be fueling a more selfish generation. Reading, especially, is an opportunity to live for awhile inside the author's mind, even in non-fiction, and see things through an author's eyes.
     
  14. readingrules12

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    Interesting point. This is brought up in the book UnSelfie. In this book, the author talks about the importance of reading fictional stories that help children to feel what the characters feel. These quality literature books may help build empathy according to the author's opinion. I tend to agree.
     
  15. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Oct 31, 2017

    At the library, yesterday, I actually put a "hold" on UnSelfie, and look forward to reading it. The article and the above discussions have sparked my interest.
     

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