We have empathy when we can imagine another person’s experience and when we identify with and understand that person’s situation, feelings, and motives. While some people may be innately gifted with an ability for empathy, others can develop it. Our empathy can grow as we learn the various tools, skills and attitudes necessary to respect diversity and increase equity and inclusion. We develop our empathy by learning about and from others.
To increase equity and inclusive education in schools we need to recognize, understand and embrace differences among our students, their parents and our colleagues. We also need to remember our shared humanity and the common human traits, needs and experiences that bind us as a species. Developing empathy helps us connect to our commonality (see James).