The importance of teaching empathy | Teacher Network Blog | Guardian Professional

The importance of teaching empathy | Teacher Network Blog | Guardian Professional:

As Aung San Suu Kyi visits the UK for the first time in 24 years, religious studies teacher Andrew Jones on how Burma's opposition leader can inspire your pupils
Burmese Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi visits the UK
Understanding who Aung San Suu Kyi is and why so many people in Burma and all over the world find her inspirational could help your students with their empathy skills. Photograph: Handout/Getty Images
As a religious studies teacher, I feel that empathy is an essential skill for all students. Learning to empathise will better equip students to interpret the experiences of others, especially when others' attitudes, beliefs and ways of thinking are alien to their own. It also allows for better intercultural understanding and community cohesion between people of different economic, cultural and religious backgrounds.
However, relating the experiences of others to one's own is a hard skill to master, especially if you have limited experience of the world due to your age. It is essential, therefore, that we build upon students pre-existing experiences when finding ways to develop empathy as a tool for improving their understanding of the world around them


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