Want Students to Succeed? Teach with a Tough Empathy

I first stumbled upon the phrase “tough empathy” when reading “Why Should Anyone Be Led by You” by Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones. In their essay, Goffee and Jones state that “real leaders empathize fiercely with their followers and care intensely about their people’s work.

They’re also empathetically ‘tough.’ This means giving people not necessarily what they want, but what they need to achieve their best” (2000). Sound familiar? It should, because it’s what our best teachers do every day. They practice a tough empathy pedagogy.

Teaching with tough empathy is not a soft pedagogy.

 David J. Kimball