As adults, many of us find it difficult to empathize with others. While we may be sympathetic with people in certain situations, a lot of us find it hard to put ourselves in their situation and truly appreciate what they are going through. Often, this is because we were never in situations where we had to empathize with people as we were growing up, so doing it as an adult is something that we are simply not used to.
However, it seems that schools in Denmark may have the right idea, as they actually teach young students to empathize as part of their schooling. This has proven to be a valuable part of their upbringing since it enables them to appreciate and understand things that they would never have given a second thought otherwise. In fact, some believe that other countries could do well by taking a leaf out of Denmark's book and teaching kids about empathy from an early age.
How Do They Do It?
So, how are schools in Denmark achieving their goal of teaching kids how to be more empathetic to their fellow students and others as they get older? Well, they put aside one hour each week for what they call 'social learning', and they have been doing this since the early 1990s. As a result, Denmark has officially been recognized as one of the happiest countries across the globe!
This weekly social hour is aimed at kids aged between six and sixteen years, and it has become an important part of schooling in Denmark. During the social learning hour, students are encouraged to talk about issues they have in front of the other students as well as the teachers. This could be in relation to any issue, including issues at school such as feeling excluded by other kids. The purpose of the hour is to provide kids with a neutral environment in which they can bring up their feelings and issues, with the chance for other students to relate and empathize.
An Important Quality for Children
According to officials, empathy is a very important quality for children to develop at this stage in their lives, as it will benefit them in their adult lives. Officials believe that learning empathy enables children to enjoy a better sense of security in the future, makes them far more tolerant as adolescents and adults, and makes them more accepting of others. Also, they add that it helps to reduce the risk of bullying, which has become a major issue at many schools in other parts of Europe and beyond.
Another key benefit of these weekly sessions is that everyone gets the chance to be heard. For those who are very shy or vulnerable, expressing themselves and actually getting others to listen can be a challenge. However, these hourly sessions provide the ideal platform where kids can speak out, know that others are listening, and can gain the empathy of other students.
Many now think that this type of social learning could be hugely beneficial in schools across Europe and in the United States as well as other countries where bullying and similar issues cause problems. Often, children at school experience cliques which they are either a part of or excluded from. This can create serious divisions and problems within the school environment, but social learning is something that could help to reduce this type of issue.