Friday, February 5, 2016

Why develop empathy in the classroom?

Our fourth grade students are pretty typical of most nine or ten year olds. They think that whatever is happening to them or their friends is the most critical thing that is happening in the world. Small problems become large and they can lose sight of the problems of others. As an educator how do you handle this seemingly small problem? Our solution was to institute a Passion Period. However, our Passion Period came with a twist. Our time became a Compassion Project. Students began by choosing something that they feel compassionate about. It could be a social issue such as pollution, homelessness or hunger or it could be focused on animals and their ethical treatment. Some decided to research bullying and issues that affect girls.

This introduction was followed up by a research project. Students became informed consumers by researching different charities to determine what percentage of their donations actually helped the intended target. Boy were we surprised! One charity that the students investigated was Cancer Fund of America located in Tennessee. Imagine our surprise when we found out that in May of 2015 that this charity and three others were under investigation for stealing more than $187 million dollars from consumers! Of course there were many more charities that gave a high percentage of their donations to the cause that they were advocating for.


Students will continue to narrow down their choices as they choose a charity to work for. Once they have chosen a charity they can choose how to make a difference in someone else's life. Their choices include to be an advocate by creating posters, flyers and websites to encourage people to take a stand or they can choose to raise money for their charity. This will be done through a "make" sale where students will create items that they will sell to other students and staff during the lunch hour to raise money for their charities. The final option is for students to investigate what local charities need in the way of volunteer work and can choose to share more of themselves.

No matter what they choose, the students are the winners as they learn to look outward to help others and become more kind and compassionate toward their own classmates as well!

No comments:

Post a Comment