Empathy: The 21st Century Skill

The Alan November http://novemberlearning.com/ session titled Empathy: The 21st Century Skill made me believe that ISTE11 was everything I had imagined it could be. The immensity of the amount of sessions available, the enormity of the conference center, & the inconsistency of the size of the session rooms all combined for some “not so up my alley” sessions. However,with this being said, seeing Alan November speak with such conviction & passion made me completely aware of the absolute necessity to define, understand, & embed Empathy into my classroom. According to wikipedia empathy is  translated literally as feeling, and is the capability to share another being’s emotions and feelings. Can we all just sit & ponder this for a moment. Thanks. Now lets begin to apply this term as THE 21st century skill. The weight of both this definition & its place in society as THE skill necessary for 21st Century citizens is enormous. November gave examples of global projects gone wrong (mainly because the educator was not fully aware of another nation/person’s take on the issue, subject, content etc that the student was working within & therefore did not give the student the necessary skills to create not from an Americentric perspective, but rather from a global perspective & not only from a global perspective but a fully-aware global perspective in which empathy dwells at the forefront. November argues that while educating/learning from a globally aware perspective is not always as easy of a place to get to, it is both possible and necessary. Below are some of the most notable statements/ideas IMO from the session.
Notable Quotes/Ideas from the session

“teachers need to think globally across their curriculum its not hard, know the root zone database & authentic dialog” -Alan November 

 the root zone datebase can be found here –> http://www.iana.org/domains/root/db/  -search with countries using the root zone database 

“all i know is there are 2 versions of the truth, but the point is I have to get a different understanding than what my own country is giving me.” -Alan November 

TED-Sam Richards-A Radical Experiment in Empathy “start with empathy, it all begins with empathy, take yourself out of your shoes & put yourself in the shoes of another person”

“but the point is I have to get a different understanding than what my own country is giving me, we need to GLOBALIZE THE CURRICULUM.” -Alan November
—> to prepare globally competent students we must teach them to understand global empathy across the curriculum
“starting in kindergarten every classroom should be a global collaboration center” -Alan November 

“grab a hashtag, meet people, create an authentic global connection”-Alan November 
—> November goes onto to argue that twitter is way to make this happen. He discussed the Egyptian Revolution and the hashtags #Egypt #Jan25 as example to where students can get true, authentic, global dialog. 

“build an international network based on passion of interests” -Alan November 

“passion’s skill quality is empathy” -Alan November
–> put more passion into learning & if we connect kids to authentic conversations- more passion is what is going to be a result & not only will students be consistent, & question they will go above & beyond through outlets like twitter. 

“its amazing how many kids dont know that they are being given an american point of view” -Alan November
site:sch.uk <— how you find schools in england (an example of how to give students authentic information)

Eli Pariser- Google in the Bubble – google tracks and tallies how you search the more you search the more google controls you so what happens is the more you search the narrower your field of perspective becomes…

***this is phenomonally dangerous! to teach child how to search well, how to get other points of view, as the search engine they use for homework narrows their perspective of how the world works it is the opposite vision! 

“how do we teach children to overcome the bubble that google puts over every students head” -Alan November

So, as educators-aware educators who want to ensure that we are not only practicing empathy but are giving our students the skills necessary to not only understand empathy & practice it, but to be able to search for it & apply it as well, we must begin to take the steps necessary to give our students the resources to do this authentically. Sam Richards say that he tells his students  “to step outside of their tiny little world, & step into the tiny little world of somebody else-and then do it again, and again, and again and then suddenly all of these little tiny worlds come together in this complex web and then build a big complex world and then without realizing it, you’re seeing the world differently- everything in your life has changed-and that is of course what this is all about. Attend to other people’s lives, other people’s visions, listen to other people, and enlighten yourselves.” The powerful of this statement stands for itself- & if we can create this belief within ourselves so much so that it becomes the core of being & thus directly effects our teaching, and then support our students with the resources, ideas, questions necessary that they too adopt this way of living-then maybe, just maybe we can create the change and ensure that Empathy, is indeed the skill of the 21st century. 

Also, consider this —> 

“Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” -Margret Mead

How do you approach empathy in your classroom?  




4 thoughts on “Empathy: The 21st Century Skill

  1. May I suggest a further resources to learn more about empathy and compassion. The Center for Building a Culture of EmpathyThe Culture of Empathy website is the largest internet portal for resources and information about the values of empathy and compassion. It contains articles, conferences, definitions, experts, history, interviews, Β videos, science and much more about empathy and compassion.http://CultureOfEmpathy.com

  2. great! I will check your blog out for sure-subscribing now! What is your twitter name? Would love to connect so we can discuss further!

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