Empathy and compassion are essential to the school environment

Empathy and compassion are essential to the school environment

Empathy is a person’s ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. It involves both an emotional and a cognitive component, as the person feels as others do while trying to understand others’ perspectives.

Compassion is a deep sense of concern for the feelings of others, accompanied by a strong desire to help. The sentiment goes beyond feeling regret: it involves direct action and taking steps to improve. Compassion can be shown by offering emotional support, practical assistance, or even advocacy for social change. It is often seen as the cornerstone of many spiritual and ethical systems and has been shown to have a positive impact on both the giver and the receiver.

Empathy is often considered a prerequisite for compassion because it provides the foundation for understanding the experiences and emotions of others. When we have empathy for someone, we can identify with their feelings and feel a connection with their feelings. Lauren Owen argues that the benefits of empathy and compassion in education include building a positive classroom culture, strengthening community, and preparing students to be leaders in their own communities.

Why is it important to support empathy and compassion?
In recent years, studies have shown that the lack of both in interpersonal behaviors has short- and long-term consequences: the increase in the suicide rate, both among young people and adults, but also the increase in the number of people who consume prohibited substances, to compensate emotional voids with temporal sensations.

According to the study by Statista, in 2021, it was estimated that about 2.2 million people in the United States had used ecstasy, also known as MDMA or Molly, in the past year. These are banned synthetic substances that produce feelings of pleasure and emotional warmth, as well as increased empathy, energy, and a sense of well-being. They can also cause negative effects such as nausea, jaw clenching, chills, disorganized thoughts, etc.

Even if the substances in this category are, for some, momentary solutions, there are also cases where people end their suffering through other methods. According to another study by Statista, between 2017 and 2018, there were 7,520 suicides among people aged 15 and over in Italy, which equates to a suicide rate of 7.02 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. Men accounted for 77% percent of suicides.

Given this context, the prevention of similar situations, in which people fill emotional, psychological gaps, etc. or stop their suffering through extreme gestures, should be introduced from an early age. The school, by its very nature, ensures the excellent academic results of the students, but also the construction of a healthy lifestyle, which trains the student and prepares him to make the most appropriate decisions even in difficult moments. For this reason, building and strengthening behavior based on a system of positive values ​​and beliefs, developed in an environment where children feel they belong and have emotional safety, empathy, compassion, solidarity is more than crucial.

Empathy and compassion in the educational environment
Empathy and compassion can play a positive role in the educational environment by creating a more inclusive, equitable atmosphere based on respect, appreciation and solidarity, which contributes to improving relationships. When teachers and students practice empathy and compassion, they help build trust and strengthen positive relationships. As a result, a more supportive and inclusive learning environment is created where students feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. In this context, empathy and compassion can foster cooperation and teamwork, as students and teachers are more likely to understand each other’s perspectives and work together toward a common goal.
Empathy and compassion can promote well-being for both teachers and students by reducing stress, improving mental health and increasing feelings of belonging. Empathy and compassion, on the other hand, support higher academic achievement and lower absenteeism.

How can we support empathy and compassion in schools?

Creating an inclusive and positive learning environment can be achieved through several methods, which can be repeated so that they are embedded in the school’s organizational culture. Teachers can lead by example by demonstrating empathy and compassion in their interactions with students, peers, and parents. Some simple methods can be:

* Active listening, showing understanding and concern for others and taking steps to help when needed;
* Including activities and exercises that promote empathy and compassion in the lesson plan. For example, they can have students reflect on the perspectives of characters in a book or engage in role-play activities that simulate real-world scenarios.
* Identifying each student’s strengths and challenges, providing individualized support and fostering positive relationships among classmates.
* Celebrating student diversity by fostering respect for different perspectives and backgrounds and creating a culture of belonging.
* Developing emotional intelligence by identifying, understanding and managing one’s own and others’ emotions.
* Participation in social projects, where empathy and compassion can be practiced, so that students see the impact of their actions and develop motivation and belonging.

1 Comment
  • Lidia Holban
    Posted at 13:03h, 14 February Reply

    Mulțumesc penru articol, pentru toată activitatea, pentru inițiativă, pentru sfaturi!
    Estede un real interes , deși nu sunt noțiuni noi avem nevoie tot timpul să vorbim despre asemenea noțiuni pentru că fără aceste valori nu am simți că trăim, că suntem utili , că împărtășim cu ceilalți trăiri și dentimente frumoase…

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