TED Conversations

Managing Director, DJ Squared Limited

This conversation is closed.

Rate educators based on their empathy alone.

The only real measure of effectiveness regarding an educator is that they treat each child (from pre-school to university) individually.

If they do that, then that child will receive the very best education possible. Currently, too many educators take a formulaic approach and effectively blame the child if they don't understand.

By scoring educators based on their empathy, it removes the nonsense of cheating at annual tests simply to stay employed. Yes many would go, however, that might then mean that the lost vocational element of education might reemerge.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    May 4 2013: That's not true at all. Measures of effectiveness regarding an educator cannot hinge on one single variable. Educators must be well rounded and need to exhibit behaviors based on their position.

    1. Understanding
    An educator needs to have a firm grasp on the mechanics of any subject they teach. They need to understand the basic components of a subject in order to properly educate others.

    2. Communication
    Educators must be effective communicators. This isn't about being articulate. This is about having the ability to communicate sets of data in various ways.

    Empathy is not required. Sometimes understanding that you cannot possibly fully grasp another person's situation may help you communicate with them.

    The problem here is "subjective understanding". This is totally different from "objective understanding" in that "subjective understanding" is only relevant to you.

    You may say "I understand" and have no real clue as to what the other person is thinking or feeling. Empathy is a tricky thing. We should not worry about empathy. We should consider that we may not be able to fully empathize with another person. So we should not base our assessments of behavior on our subjective understanding of their situation.
    • thumb
      May 4 2013: Henry. It is precisely this attitude that has brought us to such a low rating in education compared to so many other countries.

      It's a given that teachers need to own the subjects that they teach, but besides knowing the subject, they also need to know how to capture the student's attention by making their classes FUN and interesting...no matter the subject. It's a scientific fact that, when students are having FUN, their brain expands and they pay more attention. People can only learn when they are paying attention--not daydreaming or snoozing--and it is the teacher's responsibility to create an environment of curiosity--not by demanding or bullying.

      I knew a teacher who even made Calculus FUN by starting each class with a math song. My French teacher was also fully "engaged"--and as a result, I still speak French fluently (Thank you, Mr. Regester!). The minute we entered the classroom, we were in Paris, with our own French names, and if we didn't know a word, the class was encouraged to play "Charades" and help each other find the missing word/s. Anyone who lacks creativity, or doesn't absolutely love the subject and love helping others to learn, would be better off doing a different line of work.
      • thumb
        May 4 2013: How does any of that make me wrong?
      • May 5 2013: Here is the link to the Merriam - Webster definition of Empathy:


        As an educator, I should be aware of your feelings and issues as a student. But that has no bearing on how well I educate you in the classroom. What you are describing in your classes in school is not empathy, it is good teaching by inspiring the students through good education. Maybe your teachers were empathetic, maybe they weren't, just because the class was "fun" does not tell me anything about their level of empathy for you, the student.

        The teachers job is what Henry describes, to teach. Your job, as a student is to learn. What you have stated in your counter-point supports what Henry believes good educators should be doing. It is not counter to his view at all, but it describes the issue of empathy quite well. Some students may not have enjoyed "singing" in class because they were not good singers and been very uncomfortable with that. Does that make your calculus teacher less empathetic or a bad teacher? Or students who don't like charades or language immersive classrooms may have not learned as much as others. If I asked them what they thought, perhaps they hated that class and French.

        Yes, your teachers were creative, but they may not have cared what you thought or your feelings. As a teacher, I can be incredibly creative and forward thinking in my lessons, but not be empathetic and still considered a good teacher because my students score high on tests. I could also be considered a poor teacher because students don't like high expectations or don't want to learn.
        • thumb
          May 6 2013: "Your job as a student is to learn."??? The first step is for teachers to teach students HOW to learn by the way we ourselves approach the subject. That's why kids are in school--because they DON'T know and we, as teachers, are supposed to know. Kids sing because it's joyful; they're not thinking about whether they have a good voice or not.

          These are inhibitions that develop BECAUSE they have not been given an environment of spontaneity and creativity. In my French class, we all became close friends because we learned to give and to share as a result of playing Charades. No child was left out because our teacher was so astute about giving care and nurturing to his "family" of students.

          I think the problem is that some people don't understand that the word "Empathy" means to put oneself into the other person's place. How we would feel/respond if we had experienced the same situation and also had had the same background and experiences as the other person.

          When we are able to understand that, were we to have been born to this other person's family, with the same physical and mental attributes, as well as the same relationships and experiences in our life, we would, in fact, be and act exactly as this person does. That being the case, we can all develop more humility, tolerance, and understanding in dealing with others.
    • May 5 2013: To be one of the best, empathy is a necessity. You and others don't know why. Thank a teacher.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.