Jonathan: Wow, I get the picture now. It’s amazing how clearly you have explained things. Is there anything else we need to understand to provide supports to hurting students?
Houston: Yes, the last thing we need to focus on is empathy – in fact, it’s at the top of the list, not the bottom.
There is a lack of empathy in our world that permeates our schools.
Kids can be really mean to each other sometimes, but it’s usually because they’ve seen adults do it first. Empathy is a skill that all of us could use some work on because, by default, I think we are pretty bad at it. It is hugely challenging to put yourself in the shoes and mindset of another person when all you know is your own experience.
I often tell students that empathy is intentional imagination – the exercise of understanding someone else’s struggles by extrapolating similar feelings from your own experience. It is an umbrella skill that requires a lot of other ancillary skills like patience, kindness, selflessness, and humility – all of which I would suggest are things that we need to practice in small ways every day to get better at them.
… Empathy is a muscle that gets stronger if we apply intentional, consistent practice.
…It is an empathy-deficiency in schools that creates pain, harassment, and disengagement.