Today's Big Stories

What SA schools can learn from Denmark about teaching kids empathy

As bullying and discrimination continues in South African schools, fears are growing that young children are losing their ability to be empathetic.

Empathy is known as the ability to read another person’s emotions and helps creates happier people as a result.

It's reported that Scandinavian countries have some of the happiest children in the world.

This is partly because the schooling systems in countries such as Denmark have woven critical life skills such as empathy into the teaching curriculum.

Schools devote classroom lessons to teach learners empathy every single week in "Klassens Tid", an hour of empathy-building required for all kids aged 6 to 16.

Danish parenting expert, Iben Sandahl explains that the concept of empathy can be learnt through teaching scenarios.

Learners are allowed talk through their own individual or group-level problems or discuss urgent conflicts they face.

The most important part is that children heard, seen and acknowledged as a part of a bigger community. When you are recognised you become someone.

Iben Sandahl, Danish parenting expert

Sandahl says that empathy is an attitude that can be developed and practiced, and is proven to reduce bullying and create emotionally-competent adults.

We are all born with the aptitude for empathy... It's an attitude of kindness. It's a major part in improving our social connections and overall happiness.

Iben Sandahl, Danish parenting expert

Sandahl is a former teacher and says that for the curriculum to be effective, it requires learner engagement and educators who can teach in an authentic manner.

Listen to the full conversation from The Pippa Hudson Show:

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