I read an interesting article in Teachers Matter (Issue 47) written by a New Zealand educator Carolyn Stuart, about empathy. Empathy – Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another’s position.
She was quite challenging about people’s capacity for empathy, stating that she doesn’t believe that people are naturally empathetic. All of us respond to events or issues using our own world view to interpret situations.
In classrooms for example, some teachers may interpret a child’s behaviour based on how they think children should behave in the classroom. They make a judgement that the behaviour is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. A truly empathetic teacher puts aside their beliefs and looks to what is happening for that child. He or she finds out what is going on for that child and can then understand why the child is acting up.
Children may do something thoughtless to another child and when they are asked how that person might be feeling, they are often genuinely shocked by the other person’s feelings. They haven’t yet developed the ability to be empathetic.
On a personal level, I want to share an epiphany I recently had about my own empathy for others. Like many New Zealanders, I have been annoyed at people who have absconded from quarantine, judging them as being selfish. But recently, a family absconded from their quarantine hotel to attend their father’s funeral which they were going to miss. Having just been through the same thing, with my father passing away in Australia and me not being able to even get to Australia to attend his funeral, I have enormous empathy for that family. I have looked at their behaviour from a changed world view. Had I been able to even get to Australia, I can’t guarantee that I wouldn’t have absconded to go to the funeral.
Parents can be disappointed when their child lacks empathy for others, usually when they have wronged others. They are not yet capable of looking at the world through another person’s eyes to understand what is going on for them. I am sure that mothers (and fathers) have felt let down because their child hasn’t seemed to understand why their parent is feeling the way they do.
Don’t be hard on your child if they lack empathy. Guide them to listen to what other people are saying and discuss with them how that person may be feeling. If they tell you about an incident at school, ask them what they think might be going on for that person to make them act that way. These are first conversations we have with our children to get them to learn empathy.
A final quote: Brene Brown (Dare to Lead) describes empathy as feeling with someone. This is different to sympathy, which is when we feel sorry for someone. Feeling sorry for someone magnifies the feeling of being alone. When feeling with someone, it magnifies the feeling of connection. Empathy is at the heart of connection.
We need to remind you that dogs are not permitted on the school grounds, no exceptions, sorry. This applies to after school as well as during school hours. The bylaw around dogs in playgrounds applies to schools. I am fine with your dog being tied up but the only place you can tie them up is along the fence, as long as your dog is not barking or gets distressed when you leave. Thanks for your support.
Quiz Night Friday 11 September
This is the biggest fundraiser of the year. It’s been a strange old year but aren’t we lucky to have the Quiz on Friday 11th September to look forward to. Please get behind the biggest fundraiser of the year and get your tables booked. I can speak from experience, this is a very fun event, I look forward to it all year! A chance to dress up and let your hair down….oh and answer the questions! A big thank you to Manuka Dr for their continued sponsorship.