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Bob Brooks' definition, discussion, and illustration of empathy.

Empathy is the capacity to put oneself inside the shoes of another person and to see the world through that person's eyes.

Empathy implies that you have trained yourself to consider how other people perceive situations.

“Being empathic invites educators to ask, “Would I want anyone to say or do to me what I have just said or done to this student (or colleague or parent).

Or “Whatever I say or do things with students (or colleague or parent), what is my goal and am I saying or doing these things in a way that my students will be most likely to hear and respond constructively to them?”

An example; a teacher might try to motivate a student by exhorting a student to “try harder.”  Student frequently experienced the comment as accusatory and judgmental.  They are trying as hard as possible. When students feel accused, they are less prone to be cooperative. Conversely, what would the teacher feeling be if their principal said to them “If you tried a little harder in class you wouldn’t have this problem.”


Dan Goleman’s definition of empathy from Social Intelligence, 2006. “Today’s psychology is used in 3 distinct senses:   Knowing another person feelings; Feeling what that person feels; and Responding compassionately to another distress. I notice you, I feel with you, and so I act to help you.  In a moment of empathy, both our emotions and thoughts are primed along the same lines as those of the other person.  The movement from empathy to act transverses mirror neurons.  To understand what someone else experiences to empathy, we utilize the same brain’s wiring that is active during our own experience.”