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Why Empathy?

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“The ability to understand what someone is feeling” – that’s the textbook definition of empathy.  But when put into practice, empathy means a whole lot more.  It means the ability to grasp the many sides of today’s complex problems and the capacity to collaborate with others to solve them; it means being as good at listening to the ideas of others as articulating your own; it means being able to lead a team one day, and participate as a team member the next.

This is such a different world from generations past. Change is constant. Problems are global. Information is at our fingertips. In the era of Wikipedia, does it really matter how much you can memorize? What’s more important is that you can take the perspective of others – whether you’re designing a new technology, or negotiating, or anticipating the uncertain. Indeed, how well we do — whether in the classroom or the boardroom — depends more than ever on how well we forge and navigate relationships. In this way, empathy is the new literacy: essential for us to communicate, collaborate, and lead.

Empathy also gives us the will and the tools to be effective changemakers for the good. It motivates us to imagine and then build something better together. But is also ensures we build well: informed by a deep understanding and respect for others, working collaboratively across disciplinary boundaries, and creatively addressing problems at their root. If we want a society of changemakers, where problems no longer outrun solutions, then we have to prioritize empathy because changemaking is essentially empathy in action.


Empathy gives you power to: 

Equip Students

Empathy means more than treating others better—it means doing better. In a time characterized by connectivity and change, students who learn to forge and navigate relationships in the classroom will thrive in tomorrow’s workroom and boardroom. Empathizing with the feelings and perspectives of others is the foundation for good commu- nication, teamwork, and strong leadership—no matter what path they take, or what jobs they undertake, in the future.

Transform Schools

Practicing empathy leads to improved classroom management and more time for learning. Students arrive each day ready to learn, and teachers are better equipped to deal with the social and emotional needs of their students. Schools that are committed to empathetic teaching and practices enjoy improved teacher efficacy and retention, because teachers are treated with the trust, resources and understanding they deserve.

Change the World

Our world is full of complex challenges, where the decision of one person can have ripple effects through communities and cultures. Empathy gives us the will and the tools to be effective changemakers. Today’s complex challenges cannot be solved by one person or one organization. Empathy motivates us to build something better together and helps us do so with imagination and respect—guided by a deep understanding for the people and the world around us.

Need more information. Read A Case for Promoting Empathy in Schools.


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