An Educator's View


Topic: Empathy

Season to use: the holidays

Process: Visually represent your response to a video meant to invoke emotions in you and discuss. 


Disclaimer! IVA thrives in guiding students to learn and live well. This family assignment is not intended to invoke moral practice but for your family to get to practice intellectual virtues together as you think and talk about the ideas around empathy. Use any part of this Advisory guide that works for your family. 

  1. Check in: IVA is focused on equipping students for meaningful growth intellectual virtues – or good habits that we use when we are thinking and learning. This lesson explores empathy. For a quick academic discussion (only if you really want to) on whether empathy is moral virtue, skill, or capacity – read this chapter introduction. For our exploration purposes, we can think about empathy in general terms of caring, and/or sharing, and/or knowing. With this focus: ask one of the following questions from each person to get started:
    1. Who is the most empathetic person in our family? What makes you say that?
    2. When did you realize the world was not revolving around you? 
  2. Intellectual Exploration:
    1. Watch the following video that is supposed to make even the most “heartless” choke up and talk about how did we see empathy exhibited in the video.
    2. Visually track when did we feel empathetic ourselves - like an EKG graph or something. Use this graphic to point to moments in the video and discuss whichever of the following questions that interest your group.
    3. Process the video and the visual you created with these questions:
      • What types of empathy were in the video?
      • The video suggests that empathy is not easy – is it a sacrifice to feel empathetic? How else can you think of it?
      • What are the benefits of empathy? Which ones that were presented in the video appeal to you specifically?
      • Bonus question: the man in the video “practiced” empathy. Can you grow in empathy? How?
      • Bonus question: Why is an insurance company proposing empathy?
    4. Try it out! Take a Sensitivity IQ test. Have fun as a family by either:
      • Taking the online test together here OR
      • Write a bunch of emotions on a pieces of paper and play charades to guess the emotion. To get some ideas of complex emotions look at the online test. How do you do?
  3. Reflect: The idea of intellectual character development is that you can grow in your thinking and learning habits and practices – which of the intellectual virtue practices would help you to practice empathy? Look at the definitions of the virtues, can you be intellectually virtuous and not be empathetic?