Empathy

I’m teaching only tutorial lessons next week, which is fine by me – tutorial lessons can be intense for the student and focussed for the teacher – but I’ll also be glad to return to teaching groups as the month goes on and the school fills.

At OISE Cambridge group size is usually restricted to four (with the exception of the afternoon workshop), but in a group of any size there is – or can be – a peculiarity to the dynamic, where students will benefit from being with other learners in a slightly counter-intuitive way. So while in part this is down to such simple factors as the sharing of information, the possibilities for competition, and the opportunity to role-play and practice, it part I am sure it has something to do with empathy and our social being – language is a social tool, and one of its functions is to strengthen and solidify group bonds.

In this short film, UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner discusses how we are wired for empathy in areas associated with language use and symbolic reasoning (and he makes some surprising observations about empathy and social class):

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