This week is Empathy Week in schools.
Empathy is a skill we can all try to learn to help us get close to understanding someone else's point of view. A way of considering the things that are going on in their lives before making judgements about how we would act, what we would say, what our attitude would be in the same situation.
This week we will be encouraging our students to consider what Empathy is and what it might look like in their school days. For the younger ones, it might involve how we can act kindly and think of others before ourselves. For our older students it might be how we react to other people's words or behaviours in a more mindful way.
Here's what the Empathy Week organisation say about it:
Empathy is a vital skill that allows us to:
navigate, communicate and work alongside others.
understand another's perspective.
connect emotionally with others and the world around us.
better understand ourselves, our own backgrounds and bias.
navigate an ever-changing world.
increase our own personal and professional wellbeing.
avoid and resolve conflict - something we will all encounter whether we like it or not.
As a final thought from me, I have read a lot of the work of an American Researcher - Brene Brown. In some of her work, she challenges people to think of others like this:
Imagine the person you are cross with, frustrated about, disappointed in. Imagine for a moment that they are trying their best today. That they are doing what they can to get through today.
It might not be your best, or what you would choose, but it could be their best today.
Given that it's their best today, how can you respond to them in a more patient way, a more generous way, a way that gives them the benefit of the doubt. They are not maliciously trying to ruin your day, they might be doing the best they can today.
This week, let's encourage our young people and their parents this week. Let's show skills in empathy when we can. Then let's give ourselves the benefit of the doubt too, that we're trying our best today and that we can do what we can do - we don't have to be perfect. We just need to try our best.