Empathy Development

Teaching empathy in schools

Children in Denmark learn empathy in school, beginning in kindergarten. What could we learn from their practices?

Anyone anywhere who has children learns quickly this inalienable truth about humans: We are inherently, naturally and spectacularly selfish creatures. From first cry to last breath, our needs blot out everything else in what is perhaps an evolutionary necessity but is also an ingredient for an unpleasant world at best, and a dangerous one at worst.

What children do not come by naturally is empathy, the ability to understand another person’s perspective and want to help them. Empathy, as it turns out, is a skill — akin to math or science or writing — that must be taught, over and over and over. And it must be taught. Not only does empathy help turn children into more pleasing people; it also is a key to forging social connections that contribute to overall happiness and success.

No one does this better than Denmark — which is, not coincidentally, the happiest country on earth, according to a United Nations-sponsored World Happiness Report. In Denmark, empathy is taught in schools, on par with math and science and literature.

Read the rest of this article, an “idea we should steal”, at Teaching empathy in schools.