Empathy—the ability to understand and share the feelings of another—is a vital skill for students navigating the diversity and conflicts inherent in the 21st century. Through this playlist, educators at the secondary level will find unique Canadian resources exploring the role empathy plays in our world of divergent and often clashing points of view.
At the most basic level, empathy allows students to experience the emotions and perspectives of another person. Yet the repercussions of that ability are far reaching. Empathetic students respect the diversity of cultures, abilities, and orientations found in today’s classrooms, without denigrating themselves or others. They look for common ground or possible solutions when disagreements arise. They are sensitive to issues of injustice and inequality.
The NFB films in this playlist can be incorporated into many areas of the curriculum, including social studies, language arts, Canadian and First Nations studies, gender studies, health, sexuality and family issues. Students are challenged to think critically and communicate opinions, ideas, and feelings on perspectives that may be far different from their own. The films address questions relevant to young people as they move into adulthood: Who am I and what is my role in a world that is far from perfect or just? What is empathy and how is it useful or powerful in my life?
To scaffold the learning process, educators will find discussion questions and a KWL Table. These tools help develop the ability to respect diversity, accept oneself and others, resolve conflicts peacefully, and address society’s inequities.
The playlist films tackle numerous subjects from a variety of perspectives. Educators can utilize these films as a tool for imparting valuable insights into the role empathy plays in our lives. When watching a film, students often place themselves in the position of a character, protagonist, or group depicted onscreen. This makes film an excellent vehicle for accessing empathy. As students observe a character’s experiences, they inevitably begin to understand what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes and see the world through their eyes.