Teaching Empathy - Denmark

October 31, 2017 18:54 |

Denmark has been teaching empathy in the classroom for quite some time. Find out some of the benefits and how this has been positively impacting Danish society.

students emotional intelligence empathy Denmark

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Jenny Anderson, wrote a phenomenal article about Denmark, “the land of the happiest people in the world” and how they take teaching empathy to students very seriously. In classrooms, for students ages 6 to 16, there is 1 hour per week that is spent doing empathy building activities as a class. This “Klassen Tid” or class time is meant for students to work together in a community to solve any social issues that might be going on. If any of the students feel uncomfortable or left out, this is the time to express their feelings.

As a group, the class brainstorms about possible solutions and discuss different viewpoints. The kids even bake a cake and eat during the hour of Klassen Tid. Iben Sandahl, Danish author and former teacher, noted “You have the opportunity, as a teacher, to reflect on your own efforts to create an inclusive learning environment where students want to learn and join. It is a way to let the class community grow.” The Klassen Tid is a time where students are meant to feel safe and secure and learn to put things in perspective. Seeing and hearing fellow student’s points of view teaches the students respect and good communication skills.

Like anything else is life, practice makes perfect. Realizing empathy is a skill that takes practice and isn’t something we are inheritably born with, is crucial for students and adults alike. To teach kids to be kind and think about others, we as adults need to model the behavior we expect to witness. How can we expect that our friends, siblings, classmates will be kind and supportive, if we ourselves, lack empathy? Let’s change that! Starting with me and you, keep your ears and hearts open to others and in time we will see a change in our communication and an improvement in our relationships. Good luck!