Our guest blogger, Roslyn Green is a Guidance Officer at a Brisbane state school. She holds qualifications in Psychology and is a passionate advocate for Social Emotional Learning, having successfully integrated Second Step throughout her school. Read Ros' article about empathy below.
Denmark is one of the top three happiest countries in the world, according to the UN’s World Happiness Report. Apparently the Danes have held this position for the last seven years! This phenomenon is causing experts from around the world to examine why this might be the case.
One important contributing factor identified is that Danish schools teach an empathy building lesson for one hour a week to all school students, called “Klassens tid”, or class time. This lesson has been part of the school curriculum since 1993! In class time, students talk through any individual or group problems and try to solve them – any issue ranging from someone being bullied or left out or other types of social conflict. Students are taught to listen to and respect everyone’s viewpoint and together find a solution. This is EMPATHY in a nutshell! Many Danish teachers report it is the highlight of their teaching week and the goal is to create the safe and cosy context the Danes famously call HYGGE. During this lesson, the children even share a special cake that they bake while talking and listening to each other. The Danes consider the weekly practice of empathy skills important because it is just that – a skill not an attribute - and as such has to be regularly rehearsed to promote mastery.
Empathy is one of the most important skill-sets and concepts that is taught in the Second Step program. Second Step teaches that empathy is about walking in another person’s shoes, trying to understand and accept another’s point of view and feelings, even if they are different to yours. It teaches this through explicit instruction, use of videos and songs, discussion and role play practice.
Take a look at the catchy Empathy song that year four and five students learn through Second Step. Warning this song is an ear worm that will stay in your head for the rest of the day!
Empathy is Compassion is Action!
Positive Pieces Education are holding one day workshops in Brisbane and Sydney in March. To learn more about the science of Social Emotional Learning and how the evidence-based Second Step program can support your students' social-emotional wellbeing, contact Positive Pieces Education at firstname.lastname@example.org.