At a point in history when humanity feels more fractured than ever, empathy has become a topic of great interest. Empathy allows us to make meaningful connections across diverse experiences and with those who are different than us. As documented in peer-reviewed articles and studies from psychology departments across the globe, it appears that empathy is on the decline. Fingers are pointed in a multitude of directions and everything from politics to social media is taking the blame.
In the past few decades, our education system has emphasized the teaching of subjects thought to prepare students for a more competitive and technologically complex job market. Those learning experiences are important but they often exist at the expense of others which allow students to develop creative capacities and emotional intelligence. Literature, foreign languages, humanities, and the arts are uniquely suited for this purpose and they demand that students practice empathy.
The art teachers at Maclay School understand that empathy is a positive outcome of a complete education and they have developed an artful way to help reverse the concerning downward trend. Kim Daniel, middle school art teacher, felt inspired to embed empathy into the art curriculum since it “builds a positive classroom culture, strengthens community and prepares our students for leadership.”
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