Empathy? An Ethos Born in the Staffroom – Whole Child Education

Daniel Favre is a teacher, teacher trainer and professor in both neuroscience and education. His work studies the process of youth violence. It also shows how supporting teachers in cultivating empathy can break the cycle of youth violence and improve maths results. His 50-hour programme trains educators to minimise students’ fear of learning and dogmatic perceptions. Regardless of their subject, teachers learn six different skills: to clearly distinguish error and fault when giving feedback to students, encourage emotional literacy, facilitate team work, emphasize our common humanity, establish a non-violent mode of authority, and strong personal listening skills and empathy.


“Empathy,” says Favre, “is central to the whole programme, and our research shows that through training, most teachers’ behaviour changes, and young people copy this change. Over a period of two years their empathy increases and their results in maths too.”


It is tempting to design anti-bullying programmes for young people, and to forget to train teachers to develop their own emotional awareness and give them the space and the tools to take care of themselves. 

by Vinciane Rycroft