Monday, May 31, 2010


I found this video about empathy in a blog post by a friend of mine about re-segregation in public schools, especially schools in New Orleans. Leaving alone the segregation / re-segregation issue, it raises a lot of interesting questions about fundamentals of what makes us human and how we, as humans, think and relate to others.

It's about 10 minutes long but I think it will be worth your time. Give it a watch and let me know what you think:

1 comment:

  1. It's fascinating, isn't it?

    The empathy vid and the resegregation article were separate thoughts, though I don't think the issues are at all unrelated. I saw the empathy vid on a friend's page and was interested in the issues it raises. What *would* happen if we thought of empathy, and not self interest, and our defining human capacity? I also like the way he made a case for "the next step" in expanding our community, making the call for global empathic civilization simply a further expansion of our natural tendencies, in line with other moments in history where we've expanded our view of who is "us" and who is "them."

    But, when I saw the video, I thought of my students. I've found that they do not seem to come naturally to empathy in classroom terms - they're quick to say that they respect the viewpoints of others, but what they quite often mean is that they will think what they think, others will do the same, and never the twain shall meet. This seems to me to skirt the issue of actually trying to imagine how a thought makes sense to someone else (much less how their thought process may be much like yours, despite the fact that you come to different conclusions) and simply talks past them. [I didn't say that very clearly, did I?] And then, later, I ran across the the other article I linked, about college students being less likely to empathize with their peers, on another friend's page. The juxtaposition of the two makes me wonder if my students and their generation will, in fact, be LESS able to move towards the kind of expanded empathy base Rifkin calls for...