Many people who choose careers in medicine or at nonprofits are intrinsically motivated to serve others. And yet most of us haven’t received any training to hone our ability to empathize; we just do our best. If we expect every healthcare professional to empathize with every patient, we must provide training. Working in hospitals is tremendously stressful: Doctors-in-training have to learn to work on a team, document their actions extensively, take on sleep-depriving schedules, and begin to take responsibility for the health of their patients. They may see death for the first time. They must learn to stand in the midst of suffering, field questions they don’t know the answers to, and parse medical jargon. As they become more senior, they may travel back and forth from outpatient to inpatient settings. They may miss their kid’s soccer game to comfort a patient who is contemplating their own mortality. Amidst all of this, studies show that physician empathy levels decline throughout training, and rise again only later in a doctor’s career. Read more from SSIR (Stanford Social Innovation Review).
University of California, Irvine anthropology professor Tom Boellstorff studied LaScala and hundreds of other players with disabilities in his research into how they use Second Life for social interaction that often escapes them in non-virtual settings. Boellstorff started playing in 2004 under the avatar Tom Bukowski. He’d become interested in studying new virtual worlds with the same methods he used in the field as an anthropologist observing gay and lesbian culture in Indonesia. Boellstorff found that physical world research techniques transferred to the virtual one, including participant-observation, a method used by cultural anthropologists. Read more on DisabilityScoop.
Children with autism could see meaningful social skills gains from working with an interactive robot at home, researchers say.
A study published this month in the journal Science Robotics found that kids on the spectrum who spent just 30 minutes a day with the so-called social robots made significant improvements in eye contact and social behaviors.
“The children showed improved performance across the board,” said Brian Scassellati, a professor of computer science at Yale University who led the study. “This was more than we had hoped; not only did the children and parents still enjoy working with the robot after a month, but the children were showing improvements that persisted even when the robots were not around.” Read more from Disability Scoop.
If you know anything about New Orleans public schools, you probably know this: Hurricane Katrina wiped them out and almost all the schools became privately run charters.
Many of those schools subscribed to the no excuses discipline model — the idea that if you crack down on slight misbehavior, you can prevent bigger issues from erupting.
That was also true of Crocker College Prep, an elementary school in New Orleans. It had strict rules about everything. Students had to sit up straight at their desks, eyes tracking the speaker. They had to walk the halls in silence and even wear the right kind of socks. Students who broke these rules, or acted out in other ways, were punished. Read more from Mindshift
University of Georgia education professor Peter Smagorinsky wrote a piece last year about a promising young teacher who chose to leave education. She has now returned to the classroom but in a different Georgia district.
In this column, Smagorinsky explains how her new district, with a focus on enhancing relationships rather than test scores, has revitalized her enthusiasm for teaching.
By Peter Smagorinsky
A year ago I wrote a Get Schooled essay about an outstanding early-career high school English teacher in Georgia who had become so frustrated with testing and scripted curricula that she decided to leave the profession. She had been a participant in a study I am doing of the career development of teachers, with interviews each semester since 2010, when she was still at UGA education major. Read more from AJC.
Often discussed as something that we might do (or perhaps should do) to be a good person, feeling empathetic helps us make connections with others and understand them better. It’s different from having sympathy for someone, which means to look at their suffering from the outside and feel sorry or sad for them. Empathy is feeling someone else’s pain or seeing through their eyes. It’s also a precursor to compassion, which is empathy in action—a commitment to doing something that relieves someone else’s suffering. Read more from Edutopia.
The constant need to label and pathologize everything Autistics do is part of what makes people see them and treat them as less than human, and this is a dangerous precedent to set.
I remember when my son was first diagnosed, and a old friend came to visit. I had snacks laid out for my son as I usually did, and he took a cracker, pepper slice, or carrot stick here and there. She said “he eats really well”. I said “Yes, his therapists say he likes to ‘graze’”. She looked at me and said, “Graze? Wow, they really like to give a crazy word to everything he does, don’t they? My niece does the same and no one has ever thought to compare her to a cow!” Read more from Medium.
Depending on your point of view, Cris Beam’s “I Feel You: The Surprising Power of Extreme Empathy” might seem either laughably behind the times or naïvely, maybe even willfully, ahead — so far beyond our collective horizon as to be pretty darned invisible. After all, ours is an age when the president is more concerned with building walls than feeding and educating poor kids, Congress is polarized to the point of paralysis and just about everyone else is seemingly focused on getting theirs first. We’ve become a nation of hard cases, armed to the teeth, with fury battling cynicism for primacy as the default emotion. In this world, a book with a cover featuring one bonsai tree leaning lovingly toward another does not appear likely to find much of a place. And yet here is Beam passionately asserting that “the pendulum is swinging back toward feeling, back toward love and the communal. Back toward empathy.” Read more from The New York Times.
On the heels of two large Apple investors urging the company to address kids’ phone addiction, many parents may be wondering: How do I know if my child is addicted to his or her smartphone? And how can I prevent problematic overuse? There are reasons for concern. A 2016 survey from Common Sense Media found that half of teenagers felt addicted to their devices, and 78 percent checked their devices at least hourly. Seventy-two percent of teens felt pressured to respond immediately to texts, notifications and social media messaging. Read more from The New York Times.
We now recognize empathy as the driving force behind much of human behavior, from social bonding and prenatal care to morality and human rights activism. Only recently, however, have we come to conceptualize empathy as a driving force for learning (and we’re not talking emotional intelligence here)…So there you have it–people who receive empathy from others, especially from an early age, develop a higher capacity to learn. Part of the reason for this is that empathy is an especially effective antidote to stress. In humans, stress negatively affects learning and brain development in children, mostly affecting the prefrontal cortex which manages non-cognitive skills like self-control along with memory and reasoning. Poor children, who are at greater risk of adverse childhood experiences, are disproportionately affected. Read more from informEd.