Danish Students Learn About Empathy In Schools

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Danish Students Learn About Empathy In Schools

Sometimes, it gets really hard to find happiness in a society that tends to normalize toxic behaviors and make sensitivity look like a sign of weakness. However, Denmark is now paving the way to a more open approach towards emotions.


The Scandinavian country has long been a desired place of work, as their entire culture has a lot to teach us. The World Happiness Report from the UN conducted a survey starting in 2012, where 155 countries across the globe are ranked according to the happiness of their residents. The Report has ranked Denmark among the world's happiest countries, and the rank has never gone below 3 in the last seven years. The most significant factor contributing to the country's record is the empathy hour in their schools.


Started back in 1993, all schools present in Denmark have one hour each week dedicated to "Klassens tid". Students aged from 6 to 16 have to attend that fundamental class focused on empathy.


Danish children work on being more empathetic, which helps them create better relationships and be more successful later in their lives. It also contributes to the fight against bullying in schools. The best leaders, entrepreneurs, and managers, swear by the significance of empathy. Students greatly benefit from such classes since some tend to develop narcissistic traits in their teen years. Being empathic also makes them goal-oriented and focused.


During the classes, the students are encouraged to discuss any problems they face, school-related activities, or otherwise. Each time a student talks about an issue, the rest of the class, along with the teacher, try to figure out possible solutions. Those solutions are based on listening and understanding, which helps children be more empathic towards others.


If students have no particular problems to be discussed, they get to spend that hour together enjoying and relaxing. They work on hygge, a concept closely associated with the Danish culture. "Intentionally created intimacy" is maybe the best way to explain "hygge." In Denmark, the sun sets pretty early and the weather is quite gloomy. Hygge signifies Danish warmth and intimacy. Danes insist on hygge for their well-being. The rest of the world is now catching up to the concept as well. Instagram currently has more than three million posts carrying the hashtag #hygge while Amazon sells more than 900 books on this topic.


The country's continued happiness ranking makes researchers like Jessica Alexander curious. The American writer and psychologist has worked alongside Iben Sandahl, a Danish psychotherapist; and together they wrote "The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids."


While researching for this book, the duo discovered that teamwork dramatically contributes to the development of empathy in the schoolkids. Sixty percent of schoolwork in Denmark is based on collaboration and they work to help each other, not beat others for personal gains. Rather than trying to excel over the people who are not as gifted as oneself, the kids learn how to work together. That also contributes to the fact that Denmark's also one of the best places where one can work in Europe.


It isn't like there is no competition. But it's only with oneself. Not with your peers or anyone else. The schools offer no prizes or trophies which encourage unnecessary competition. They instead try to inspire and motivate their students to work on the self and improve their skills.


The schools practice collaborative learning too. Students with varied strengths and weaknesses across several subjects work together on projects. That gets them help in the areas they are weak while encouraging them to improve further on their strengths. Collaborative learning teaches students that success can't be achieved alone and working with others generate better results.


When we explain our understanding to others, we learn the topic better than if we had memorized it alone. While we're explaining, we have to consider how the other person is receiving that information, and that also encourages empathy.


Danish kids genuinely look forward to these empathy classes. Their parents are also happy knowing that the future will be in reliable and empathic hands.


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Thinking Humanity: Danish Students Learn About Empathy In Schools
Danish Students Learn About Empathy In Schools
Sometimes, it gets really hard to find happiness in a society that tends to normalize toxic behaviors and make sensitivity look like a sign of weakness.
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Thinking Humanity
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