How does literature teach you empathy?

In this article, you will read about the concern of two university professors about teaching empathy through literature.

BingMag.com How does literature teach you empathy?

In this article, you will read about the concern of two university professors about teaching empathy through literature.

I always tell my students that when you want to get into literature, buy a literature book, "test it" first. Think you are buying clothes or shoes; Is it possible to buy clothes or shoes without trying them on or wearing them? Then they remind me that everyone buys online these days and my suggestion is nostalgic.

Well, that's right. But remember those large mirrors throughout Peru's rooms, which are still in place if you are no longer in front of them due to online shopping; Remember that you see yourself in front of the mirror not only from the front, but also from the side and back. Literary books are such mirrors. They can see "inside" their characters (we can't), they can see outside (this is beyond our power to see ourselves and others.) and often they can see "beyond" where a person can be in It gets lost or overshadowed.

My biggest goal as a teacher is to raise responsible citizens who take care of themselves and the world. And the best way to bring good people is to teach them empathy. I like to think that the ability to understand and empathize with others is something that everyone is born with, but I also know that this requires clear and direct training.

In general, it Literature that deals with big ideas and emotions is good for teaching empathy by giving the student an idea of what it's like to put yourself in someone else's place. But there are types of stories that are particularly effective in getting the student to think about how other people live. Such stories are useful for strengthening empathy skills.

1. Stories About People You Don't Like Quickly

Understanding the motivations and perspective of people you dislike is a key element of empathy. So I always choose books with unpleasant characters.

One of my favorite unpleasant characters is Malvolio from William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. At the beginning, the reader may see him as an annoying common sense, but as the other characters annoy him more and more, bully him, he can see the story from Malvolio's point of view. And finally, he realizes how class and family can limit happiness as well as the ability of people to achieve their desires in life. ; Caliban is from the play "The Tempest" that somewhere in the course of the story the reader thinks he is a monster, but in the end they realize that people are not what they seem to us at a glance.

2. Stories about people who are very similar yet very different

If you involve a student in a feeling or experience that they can relate to, you can lead them to think that there are people in this world who are They are very different. For example, in the short story "Barn Burning" by William Faulkner, Sarty, the main character of the story, is involved with the universal feelings of the split between family and society, and most teenagers can identify with him. But when the reader realizes how the poverty of the main character is involved in the plot of the story, he will gradually realize the general picture of social justice and injustice presented in the story.

3. Stories about people who belong to other regions

I usually see among my students that they think that people all over the world have the same life as them. If they read stories about people from other countries, they will have a greater sense of identity when facing these differences in real life. We follow his becoming and separation from his mother and becoming independent throughout the novel. But it also deals with issues such as race, colonial system and post-colonialism in one of the areas under British colonial rule. When a student is faced with such a story, when they go a little deeper into it, their understanding of the world really increases.

4. Any kind of literature that makes the reader question their assumptions

One of the key factors in developing empathy is the ability to recognize and accept our mistakes. Sometimes everyone judges and everyone hypothesizes. But when we see that our mistakes disappear with the passage of time, then we can more easily empathize with others.

Poetry does this. The poem makes the reader question his own assumptions. For example, the poem "Let this homeland become a homeland again" (Let America Be America Again) by Langston Hughes, which questions the false image of the American dream, or "The Victims" by Sharon Olds. These poems raise important questions but do not provide definitive answers, helping the reader to understand that finding their way in life is a process.

In general, literature can help students or students face People whose lives are not similar to theirs, have empathy, understanding and patience. This is how citizens become responsible for the education that makes a difference in this world. You can develop these skills by reading rich literature.

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