Schools in Denmark Have Mandatory Empathy Classes as Part of the Official Curriculum

Stock Photos from Karasiki/Shutterstock

While most school children are educated in academic subjects such as math and English, there are other important life lessons that don’t always make it into the curriculum. Having empathy is a learned skill that comes with listening and understanding others. That’s why Danish schools decided to introduce mandatory empathy classes in 1993, as a way to teach children aged 6-16 how to be kind.

For one hour each week, during “Klassens tid,” students are invited to talk about problems they have been experiencing. During this time, the entire class works together to find a solution. This teaches children to respect the feelings of others without judgement.

The empathy classes are believed to help them strengthen their relationships, sympathize with others’ problems, and even prevent bullying. They also allow each child to be heard, feel valued, and become part of a community.

Naturally, kids grow up to become confident, emotionally intelligent adults and are more likely to raise happier kids themselves. It should therefore come as no surprise that Denmark is consistently ranked highly as one of the happiest places to live. According to the World Happiness Report—released annually since 2012—Denmark is the second-happiest country, after Finland.

The country took first place in 2016 and has remained in the top three ever since. In fact, Denmark was also number one in the very first World Happiness Report in 2012. Clearly, they’re doing something right.

Denmark has consistently been at the top of the UN’s World Happiness Report. In the latest report, Denmark stood in second place followed by Finland. Denmark has been at the top in 2012, 2013, and 2016. Perhaps the empathy classes have a lot to contribute in this aspect.

The Danish Way stated, “Empathy helps build relationships, prevent bullying and succeed at work. It promotes the growth of leaders, entrepreneurs, and managers. ‘Empathic teenagers’ tend to be more successful because they are more oriented towards the goals compared to their more narcissistic peers.” Empathy is also taught through teamwork where those excelling and those lacking are made to work together.

This not only helps with understanding the positive qualities of each other but also lift each other up to complete a task without being pulled down by competition with each other. Another popular program is called the CAT-kit. In this program, the aim is to improve emotional awareness and empathy by focusing on how to articulate experiences, thoughts, feelings, and senses, reported The Atlantic.

There are picture cards of faces, measuring sticks to gauge the intensity of emotions, and pictures of the body, included in the CAT-kit so kids can understand the emotions being exhibited while also learning to conceptualize their own and others’ feelings. In the classroom setting, along with the facilitator, the children are taught not to be judgemental but acknowledge and respect these sentiments.

“A child who is naturally talented in mathematics, without learning to collaborate with their peers, will not go much further. They will need help in other subjects. It is a great lesson to teach children from an early age since no one can go through life alone,” says Jessica Alexander, author of the book The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids.

By Emma Taggart

Source: In Danish Schools, Empathy Is Taught to Students Aged 6 to 16


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Nobel Prize Winner Has a Simple Trick to Learn Anything Quickly

The physicist Richard Feynman believed that simplicity was the key to learning. Feynman worked on the Manhattan Project when he was only 20 years old. He went on to win the Nobel Prize in 1965 for his work in quantum electrodynamics, along with Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga.

Feynman believed that truth lies in simplicity and that things are easier to learn and retain when they’re simpler. When your knowledge of something is full of complex explanations and terms taken from textbooks, you’re less likely to grasp it.

He’s famously been quoted as saying, “You must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” The goal of learning is to understand the world better. But more often than not, the way we learn doesn’t help us to achieve this.

You end up memorizing something exactly as it’s written in a book or as the teacher explained it to you, so it doesn’t take long for this knowledge to disappear. This is where the Feynman technique comes in.

The idea is to make things simple enough for anyone to understand. In doing this, you can acquire a deep understanding of the topic you’re studying. The Feynman technique has four steps.

1. Choose a topic and start studying it

Feynman’s technique isn’t limited to mathematics or physics. You can apply it to anything.

2. Explain the topic to a child

This step allows you to establish whether you’ve learned what you studied or you just thought you had.Explain the concept in your own words as if you were trying to teach it to a child.

When you try to break things down into simple ideas with plainer vocabulary, you’ll realize whether or not your knowledge of the subject is sufficient. This makes it easy to identify any gaps in your knowledge.

3. Go back to the study material when you get stuck

Only when you can explain the subject in simple terms will you understand it.This means the knowledge will stick with you and not disappear, as it can when you try to memorize something.

Review your notes and study material for anything you still don’t understand.Try to explain it to yourself in an easy way. If it’s too difficult or if you have to use terms from a textbook, then you still haven’t got it.

4. Organize and review

Don’t stop until you can deliver a simple, natural explanation.Go back to steps two and three as many times as you need. It probably won’t take as long as you think.

By: and ,

Source: Nobel Prize Winner Has a Simple Trick to Learn Anything Quickly


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