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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Is Empathy Needed In Education?

Many people talk about the need for "empathy" when it comes to working in the field of education, particularly when it comes to being able to relate to, and therefor reach the hearts and minds of the students, ESPECIALLY YOUNG BLACKS.  

Definition of EMPATHY
1: the imaginative projection of a subjective state into an object so that the object appears to be infused with it
2: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also: the capacity for this 

I stopped and thought about that (there's a tip for you), and then I remembered a scene from the movie "LEAN ON ME", and it occurred to me that, prior to the arrival of Principal Joe Clark, the teachers and administrators in the school were full of "empathy" for the students. Yet, the students didn't learn a doggone thing. 

It reminded me of a quote from THAT DUDE, Dr. Thomas Sowell, when he said, "The problem isn't that Johnny can't read. The problem isn't even that Johnny can't think. The problem is that Johnny doesn't know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling." It seems to me that far too many people in the education industry are much more concerned with the FEELINGS of the students, rather than teaching them HOW TO THINK!!

I thought about it a little more (there's another tip for you), and I remembered a particular quote from Henry Louis Gates, Jr., when he said, "The sad truth is that the civil rights movement cannot be reborn until we identify the causes of black suffering, some of them self-inflicted. Why can't black leaders organize rallies around responsible sexuality, birth within marriage, parents reading to their children and students staying in school and doing homework?"

Individual parents, the Black community as a whole, and society in general seem to not quite understand it when someone like Dr. Thomas Sowell says, "Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late." Shame is we are now at a point where we have barbarians giving birth to and "raising" another generation of barbarians.

I think about how folks like to say "racism" is the #1 thing keeping Black folks back/held down, but then I think about something that was said over 100 years ago by THAT DUDE, Booker T. Washington, who was born a slave, and dealt with REAL RACISM. He said, "The individual who can do something that the world wants done will, in the end, make his way regardless of his race."  Which lead me to think (it's become a habit) about something I heard from Ms. Danica McKellar, when she said, "Math proficiency is the gateway to a number of incredible careers that students may never have considered." I thought about this, because math knows no color. There is nothing subjective about math. Either you get the right answer, or you don't. No one can logically inject racism into math. When you learn how to do math, you learn HOW TO THINK LOGICALLY.

But even in subjective areas like literature, I agree with Ms. Bell Hooks, when she stated, "I'm so disturbed when my women students behave as though they can only read women, or black students behave as though they can only read blacks, or white students behave as though they can only identify with a white writer." Do you have any idea how limiting it is to the mind of a person, to be conditioned to primarily see everything through the lens of race, color or gender?? 

Bottom line, there is more than enough "blame" to go around, but as THAT DUDE, Dr. Walter E. Williams said back in 2003, "The route to greater academic excellence is nearly a no-brainer. There are three vital inputs to education: parents, teachers and students. You tell me: How much money does it take for teachers to assign homework, and for parents and teachers see to it that it gets done? How much money does it take to see to it that kids get a good night's sleep, come to school on time, don't fight in school and respect authority? If these no-brainer things aren't accomplished, there's no amount of money that's going to make much of a difference.

 The education establishment likes to blame poor parenting and rowdy and lawless students for educational mediocrity. Without a doubt, that's part of the problem, but incompetent, uncaring teachers are also a part of the problem."

Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same. It's funny, because back in the 1980's, Joe Clark basically said the exact same things...but since YOU PEOPLE refuse to study and learn from the successes (and failures) of the past, here we are, once again, back where we were. "It's deja vu all over again"

By: Christopher Harris. Follow on Twitter at @BlackSheepDawg