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The Dialogic Learning Weekly #148

Welcome. This week a set of provocations about EMPATHY. The word derives from Greek empatheia (from e
The Dialogic Learning Weekly
The Dialogic Learning Weekly #148
By Tom Barrett • Issue #148 • View online
Welcome. This week a set of provocations about EMPATHY. The word derives from Greek empatheia (from em- ‘in’+ pathos ‘feeling’)
Included today: the perspective from Daniel Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence, some children’s books on empathy and to kick off, an outlier view to challenge your thinking.

Against Empathy
How can we really claim to “know” what another truly feels?
Do you think empathy is a skill? Is empathy something that can be taught? Can we design an empathy rich curriculum?
Let’s explore an outlier’s view. Paul Bloom explains in his book ’Against Empathy’ that “kindness motivated by empathy often has bad effects.
“good parenting involves coping with the short-term suffering of your child”. An over-identification with one’s child’s unhappiness can be disabling to both parent and child.
In the link below Salley Vickers explores the book further explaining that Paul Bloom:
pins his colours to the mast of rational compassion rather than empathy, and it is a central tenet of the book’s argument – I think a correct one – that there exists a confusion in people’s minds about the meaning of the two terms.
Please use the article as a provocation to your understanding of compassion, empathy and sympathy. Perhaps we narrow our attention too much on our quest for ‘more empathy"?
Against Empathy by Paul Bloom; The Empathy Instinct by Peter Bazalgette
Empathic Concern
I can feel better by tuning out.
Daniel Goleman offers some clarity here that helps us navigate the confusion. He explains that there are three aspects of empathy:
The first kind, cognitive empathy, allows me to see the world through your eyes: to take your perspective and understand the mental models that make up your lens on events. The second kind, emotional empathy, means I feel what you are feel; this empathy gives us an instant felt sense of the other person’s emotions. 
It’s the third kind, empathic concern, that leads us to care about the other person’s welfare, to want to help them if they are in need. Empathic concern forms a basis for compassion. 
In order to feel someone else’s pain I have to connect with memories and experiences I have had. Goleman explains that this might mean we choose not to help others because “if your suffering makes me suffer, I can feel better by tuning out…When we think of empathy as a spur to prosocial acts, it’s empathic concern we have in mind.
Empathic Concern - Daniel Goleman
Children's Books on Empathy
Stories have the potential to be perspective portals.
Stories have the power to transport us into another world and another world view. The list of children’s books below is a good starting point for talking about empathy with young children.
The list author is Tinybop, a US, Brooklyn-based studio creating educational products. Although I have not come across some of these books before, I like the sound of this one:
Just Because by Amber Housey. Part of the series Flip Side Stories, which aim to teach children to see another point of view, Just Because teaches children about the value of giving, being thankful, and having empathy for others.
This is a short list and I would be interested in hearing what you would have in your collection, as well as literature suitable for older children.
13 kids books to spark conversations about empathy
Thanks for exploring these ideas with me this week. If you are in Melbourne in the next month (Nov 2019) you might enjoy A Mile in My Shoes at Arts Centre Melbourne. I am going to give it a go.
Created by the Empathy Museum it is a free pop-up storytelling exhibition that encourages you to, “Step inside, swap your shoes, slip on some headphones and take a walk as the shoes’ owner shares their story with you.
See you again next week.
~ Tom 
For what it is worth, I think that empathy is an aggregate of our truths. A mosaic of experience we build that helps us connect with others, find common ground and shared values.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Tom Barrett

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