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How Teachers Can Use Reading to Teach Students Empathy

How Teachers Can Use Reading to Teach Students Empathy

Researchers say there's yet another reason to add to the list of why reading is beneficial and necessary for young minds: it creates empathy.

"Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta, US, say that fiction tricks our brains into thinking we are part of the story. The empathy we feel for characters wires our brains to have the same sensitivity towards real people," according to TheGuardian.com.

A start-up company called EmpathyLab is finding ways to boost student empathy and has some suggestions for teachers.

"One approach is to find texts exploring familiar life scenarios to help children understand what their peers might be experiencing. At primary and secondary level there’s a text for just about every situation," the article said.

It also recommends teachers ensure children know the right vocabulary to properly communicate their feelings.

"Story-based questioning and discussion works well to build a language for emotions, especially when the teacher and student work together to explore what caused a character to act or feel as they did, and the consequences of their actions and emotions."

Further, teachers are encouraged to have students step into the characters' shoes through different activities, as the deep engagement will also help create empathy.

"Hotseating works well when exploring topics like bullying or prejudice. Start by absorbing related stories or playscripts. Ask children to create a character quite unlike them – the bully or the bullied – then get them in a hotseat for an interview where they really have to be that person," the article said.

By using these approaches, teachers will allow students to understand other's viewpoints and best help build children's emotional and social skills.

Read the full article here and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

05/14/2015

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