Learning Through Empathy - Elementary
This playlist offers elementary school teachers unique Canadian resources that will help students explore, discuss, and ultimately express empathy, an essential skill for navigating the diversity and conflicts inherent in our global community.
At the most basic level, empathy can be described as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” Empathy allows children to see the world from other people’s perspectives and to walk, if only for a few steps, in their shoes.
In schools, empathetic children listen to conflicting points of view and are capable of exploring peaceful solutions. When they see someone being hurt or bullied, these children refuse to be passive bystanders; instead, they speak up. Young people with a strong sense of empathy extend a helping hand and take a stand for diversity, fairness, and justice.
This playlist, appropriate for Grades 1–6, offers educators a rich collection of films that may be incorporated into many areas of the curriculum, including social studies, language arts, citizenship, conflict resolution, gender and disability studies as well as family issues. The films act as springboards for meaningful conversations and follow-up projects to develop and enhance critical thinking and communication skills. By engaging with and discussing different religious, regional, political and cultural perspectives, children gain a wider view of the world and their role in it. They begin to grapple with the fundamental questions of who they are and how they respond to the inequalities and injustices found in the world.
To scaffold the learning process, educators are encouraged to use the discussion questions and the KWL chart. All help to foster children’s emotional literacy skills including respect for diversity, acceptance of oneself and of others, conflict resolution, and concern for fairness and justice.
The films presented here explore a wide range of issues, cultures, and points of view. Educators can utilize these films as a tool for imparting valuable insights into the role empathy plays in our lives. When watching a film, children (and adults) 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 listen and observe the character’s experiences, they begin to understand what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes and see the world through their eyes.