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Lesson Plan of the Week: Practicing Empathy

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One of my favorite leaders in education is Sir Ken Robinson. His insightful TED Talk—“Do schools kill creativity?—has been viewed more than 40 million times in over 160 countries and his books are inspiring resources for parents and educators. In this book, “Creative Schools,” Robinson provides practical solutions to transforming our educational system. One solution: compassion.

I couldn’t agree more with the following thought. He writes, “Many of the problems that young people face are rooted in lack of compassion. Bullying, violence, emotional abuse, social exclusion, and prejudices based on ethnicity, culture, or sexuality are all fueled by failures of empathy…Practicing compassion is the truest expression of our common humanity and a deep source of happiness in ourselves and others. In schools, as elsewhere, compassion has to be practiced, not preached.”

One story that reflects these values is the short film Wright’s Law by Zack Conkle. The film documents high school physics teacher Jeffrey Wright who shares the wonder of physics and the laws of the universe with his students. But, it’s Wright own personal story he shares with students that teaches them the true meaning of life. The filmmaker is one of Wright’s former students.

In this lesson, students examine the definition of the word empathy and explore the themes of positive role models and social and emotional learning. Students consider the following question as a classroom discussion prompt: How can positive relationships benefit a kinder community and society?

From our newsletter: Our Executive Director Cleary Vaughan-Lee highlights selected lesson plans each week.

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Wright's Law

High school teacher Jeffrey Wright explains the laws of physics, but his own story teaches students the meaning of life.

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Speaking of Nature

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