Top Reasons for Cultivating Empathy in the Classroom

September 17, 2018

In our fast-paced connected digital world, we sometimes find our students more disconnected from each other, allowing bias and prejudice some room to creep in. Inspiring students to appreciate one another, and understand that everyone has different experiences and beliefs to be valued, can be a tough challenge.

Some believe that an educator’s main goal isn’t only to teach his or her subject matter, but maybe more importantly, to prepare students for life beyond school. Inspiring students to love learning, connect with others, and move beyond their own perspective, creates the space for truly great future leaders to emerge.

With the rise of globalization, it’s a fact that classrooms today are extremely diverse. The need is greater than ever for teachers to instill positive classroom values by practicing and promoting empathy among their students.

Incorporating empathy into the daily discourse and classroom norms can have some truly positive results, both inside and outside the classroom.

  1. Empathy builds trust
    By empathizing with one another, students better understand each other and build solid friendships based on trust and shared experiences. By demonstrating and practicing empathy, educators also improve their own student-teacher relationships.
  2. Empathy builds community
    The more students experience and practice empathy, the narrower the space remains for bias and prejudice. As they practice it with their classmates and teachers, they transfer those qualities to their lives outside the classroom and into their community.
  3. Empathy generates better grades
    John Converse Townsend argued that students enrolled in schools who incorporate empathy in their pedagogy achieved better test scores. In his article, Townsend highlights how a lack of empathy creates stress that negatively affects learning and brain development.

Encouraging and embracing empathy, as a valued practice in school, has a lot of upside for something so simple, yet crucial. It’s not about pats on the back, it’s a learned skill that helps students become more productive, compassionate, tolerant, and trusting. Everything we need from our future leaders.

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