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The Importance of Teaching Empathy
Delaware Valley Friends School faculty members Nic James and Elizabeth Kriynovich share two excellent articles on building empathy in our schools
Nic James is the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Delaware Valley Friends and shared this article from Mindshift with colleagues, saying “Many researchers and critical thinkers have discovered that when we operate from a foundation of empathy for others, we increase our own levels of happiness and productivity. We as educators bring this mindset to our school community every day. We should act as models for our students and employ empathy in our classrooms so that students can see and appreciate its value.”
Elizabeth Kriynovich teaches upper school English and is DV’s Upper School Service Learning Coordinator. Elizabeth is also one of a team of DV faculty who have delved into the importance of mindfulness practices in the classroom and presented on this topic at last year’s NAIS conference in California. She shared an additional article from Mindful Schools about how mindfulness can help build empathy, and built upon Nic’s comments adding, “Research shows that mindfulness practice can help cultivate greater awareness of our own feelings and needs. This begins to generate compassion for the self, or self-empathy, and is shown to reduce stress levels in the body. As our own stress levels go down, we are in turn able to become more aware of the feelings and needs of others, and direct this compassion/empathy outward. The article states, ‘While empathic distress is associated with negative emotion and burnout, compassion actually feels good and is associated with health and prosocial behavior.’ Overall, students and adults alike function more positively in community with others when they feel lower amounts of stress and greater peace within themselves.”
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