Empathy is Being Taught as a Value in Danish Schools

Empathy is a valuable personal trait that makes people better persons and as well as better leaders. Denmark is one of the countries that has realized the importance of a person to have a developed empathy and because of that they have incorporated empathy as a value into the standard national curriculum.

Demark at the moment is the second happiest country in the world, but it has been at first place in 2013 and 2016 according to the World Happiness Index. In this Scandinavian country the health care and education are free where people believe in love, friendship, and laughter.

They value empathy and strong feelings of affection for one another that makes this country a thriving place of peace. 

Empathy is taught even at young age in Denmark by introducing it into the standard national curriculum. The teachers in the school use creative means in order to teach the children how to understand and share feelings. Plus, the children are taught how to come to terms with various emotional states thus developing an ability to identify feelings they would ordinarily not understand. This teaching has made the Danish people the most compassionate in the world.

The best tool that the psychologists in Denmark developed is the Cognitive Affective Training Kit program successfully teaching empathy and compassion in children. This program became popular in other parts of the world and many psychologists use it frequently.

The CAT (Cognitive Affective Training) -Kit Program

This program is based on visual, interactive, and customizable tools and materials that help the children in successful communication with each other and adults.

The Measure Tool

The most commonly used tool in this program is the Measure, which in fact it is an imitation of a thermometer with levels from 0 to 10 gauging the intensity of feelings. This helps children to say their number without any verbal explanation, and once they understand the concept and depth of these emotions, they can easily identify them in other kids.

The Feelings Tool

It is based on 100 different expressive faces showing various moods in 10 different categories: love, fear, shame, disgust, joy, sorrow, anger, pride, surprise, and safety. In this case the children again do not have to say it verbally how they feel only they need to show the right picture card and thus describing their emotional state at the time being and that is real as there is no downplaying or exaggeration in expressing their emotions.

The Circles Tool

This tool is used when the child needs to describe its relationship with family and friends. This tool is also used to show their interests and hobbies. There are other tools like the Year, the Week, the Day, the Body, the Wheel, Check-ins, Draw and the Behavior Palette.

Another program that has proven to be helpful in expressing the feelings of the children is the Step by Step Program.

The Step by Step Program

It is a mandatory program that reveals the articulation of children’s feelings by showing the facial expressions of pictured kids. In this program the children see cards of other kids who express various emotions like frustration, guilt, fear, sadness and more. Here the children need to discuss about the presented emotions explaining verbally what could the child in the card feels. They are taught no to be judgmental or insensitive to other people’s feelings.

Cooperative Learning – The Most Powerful Strategy

This strategy helps children to be supportive of each other where teamwork is put at first place. In order for that to be achieved the teachers group the children of different strengths and weaknesses. For instance, children who are good at Math are grouped with the children who are not that good in this subject. In the gym, the more energetic kids are grouped with the less active ones, and during debate classes the extroverts are grouped with introverts. The point is that the math genius may have two left feet in playing soccer, and the star soccer player may be lost in chemistry. Therefore, each student acknowledged the fact that every person has its own strengths and weaknesses and the co-operative learning shows them how they can help each other.

Thanks to this strategy they learn the value of teamwork and start to respect one another’s abilities. The good student in chemistry helps the other student who is not good at math but he or she may be good at history that the math student does not like. They coach each other with kindness and love and thus get better at their skills and at the same time learn all about empathy by interacting with the people that are around them.

Bullying is a great issue in many countries all around the world, but the Danish have found a solution for this issue as well.

The Mary Foundation

This foundation is named after the Princess Mary of Denmark, and focuses on educating children in the age range of 3 to 8 against bullying. At this young age the children talk about the bad things that bullying can bring to their lives. In this program they are taught that they should not tease each other as that can hurt the feelings of the other child and that is considered bad. They are taught that they need to be sensitive to other people’s feelings.

Make the World Better by Following the Danish Example

The world would be a better place to live in if we start to educate our children on empathy since their young age. This for sure will save tons of money later on spend on campaigns to foster world peace. Peace could be established without any hard effort if we teach our children when they are very young of feelings of empathy especially towards other people. Every criminal was once an innocent child and if he or she followed some of the methods that Danish people implement on their children, then these criminals would probably not become criminals or bullies. When they were three they may have shared their water or snacks with another child and thus learned about compassion and empathy.

There is still hope that the world and the human beings will become better in future, and the Danish example gives us that kind of hope. If the children are being taught of being sensitive to the feelings of others at a young age they will eventually turn out to be successful, mentally stable, and emotionally capable adults. These adults will make the society better and the world we live in.

Stephen Pinker said:

Human nature is complex. Even if we do have inclinations toward violence, we also have inclinations to empathy, to cooperation, to self-control.”