D E S I G N C H A L L E N G E :
R E D E S I G N S C H O O L - T O - W O R K T R A N S I T I O N
S T A N F O R D U N I V E R S I T Y
D E S I G N T H I N K I N G A C T I O N L A B
S U M M E R 2 0 1 3
Empathy Map and
“Amanda” is a fifteen-year-old rising sophomore in a
private parochial high school in a suburban area on
the East coast. A sociable young woman who is
emotionally intelligent, Amanda plans to be an
English teacher. Amanda has grown up in a
traditional two-parent family; her mother is an
English teacher and her father, an advertising
executive. She has an older brother who is 17 and a
younger sister who is 9. Amanda describes herself in
school as a visual learner who is respectful of her
teachers. She most enjoys the classes where she can
learn through stories: history and English.
EMPATHY MAP: SAY
“A boss isn‟t interested in helping you succeed, not like a
teacher is. You‟re working for a boss and they‟re paying
you instead of you paying a teacher to help you get
through your „work,‟ the curriculum.”
“If your boss sees you‟re vulnerable, the boss will take
advantage and be hard on you.”
“Students need to feel confident about their positions
and not be scared. You were obviously hired for a
[As a teacher,] “I want to understand students and give
them what they need to help them learn and adapt to
their way of learning.”
EMPATHY MAP: SAY
“School doesn‟t develop patience [a quality needed
for success at work]. It comes from the home and
way you grow up.”
“Confidence, understanding, patience [are qualities
you need to succeed at work]. You need to make sure
your students and colleagues respect you.”
School isn‟t a place that can teach you confidence.”
“School isn‟t a place where you discover what you
want to be when you grow up.”
EMPATHY MAP: SAY
“If I were to decide on being a teacher based on the school I‟m
in, I wouldn‟t want to be a teacher. I don‟t like how students
treat the teachers. I wouldn‟t want to be treated that way:
disrespectfully. They complain about what they [teachers]
teach and make fun of them in and out of class. Except Mr.
Dean [an English teacher she had].
“Since everyone respects Mr. Dean and are too scared to mock
him, they learn to like him.”
“Mr. Dean treats kids like people, not like kids.”
[To earn respect of students:] “Be confident about what you
teach and how you teach it.”
“That [confidence] comes from your position in the
school, how much your boss likes you and what you give to the
school: loyalty and devotion.”
“Loyalty is something you learn at home. If your family is
loyal, you will learn loyalty. Someone from a broken home
won‟t learn loyalty in the same way.”
“My mother showed me loyalty, patience, and devotion.”
“My dad showed me how to handle kids and discipline and
how to make kids respect me.”
“I learned how to behave at work at home.”
“School will help me find the college I want [in order to
pursue a career in education.”
“In basketball and acting [extra-curricular activities], I
learned how to be bossed around, I had a boss and
“I don‟t think school should be about memorization. You
forget it all the next day, so what‟s the point?”
Amanda doesn‟t see school as a place where she can pursue
and deepen her true passions in life.
Amanda thinks soft skills such as
confidence, understanding, patience, as well as loyalty and
devotion are the most important qualities she needs for
success in her work life.
Amanda never mentions expertise in a subject area as
necessary for her work as a teacher; in fact, she says
memorization is a waste of time. Instead, she focuses on the
soft skills/classroom management skills she thinks will be
most valuable to her success as a teacher.
Amanda doesn‟t think school is a place that is helping her
develop the qualities she most needs to be a teacher. For
example, she doesn‟t find the challenges of completing an
assignment well or mastering course material confidence
Amanda also doesn‟t see the teacher‟s role as being
more than helping students to get through a
curriculum. Aside from one teacher who has earned
her respect, she never mentions her teachers as
helping her develop the additional soft skills she
wants to acquire.
Similarly, she sees her school‟s role in college and
work readiness as very practical: her school will
point her to a college with a good education program.
Amanda feels teachers “work” for her, since she is paying
them to teach her. She isn‟t intimidated by her teachers
and therefore doesn‟t see them as a “mock” bosses. She
describes the advisors of her extra-curricular activities as
Amanda is intuiting her own sense of what she thinks she
needs to be a teacher. It‟s interesting to note she has a
developed sense of empathy, which she characterizes as
Amanda identifies with her mother and the way her
mother behaves as a teacher. Most of the qualities she
mentioned as being influential to her are ones her
mother has modeled for her, proving that perhaps the
apprenticeship model wasn‟t such a bad one after all.
Amanda is learning a lot from negative role modeling
and behavior. From her strong responses to her
peers‟ disrespect for teachers, Amanda is seeing
behavior she doesn‟t want directed at herself and
looking for guidance to strong people, such as her
father and a respected English teacher she had, who
have earned the respect of others by being firm but
Amanda learns the best lessons about the world of
work from people she is emotionally connected to
and/or has respect for.
Students need ways to develop in school the soft
skills that are important in the world of work.
Students need to be shown more clearly in school
that they are developing the soft skills that are so
important in the world of work.
Students need to connect emotionally with an adult
in school who will show them how to behave in the
world of work.
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