Here is a synopsis of activities already embedded in my teaching and learning: case studies, quizzes and self tests, video and audio clips, group discussion / debate, writing and explaining tasks, problem solving in small groups.These activities are aimed at actively engaging learners in understanding mental health ill and improving mental well being.They have engendered debate, enhanced cooperative learning and problem solving. They are mainly cognitive based and in delivery and focus they are very humanistic, they are person centred. Employing the critical lenses (Brookfield, 1995).To date, such activities have met with a largely positive response. (Note: Highlight some responses)From my own self reflective, autobiographical positionthis work requires building on for the future. It is my belief that these activities, though positive, requires individuals to experience empathy and empathic understanding within their learning. My intention is not to reinvent what I do but simply enhance what exists by shifting the focus of attention to a more desirable affective learning process.
Why is this important?, why bother?To recognise, understand and identify with another person’s feelings. To be able to tune in and interact with people much more effectively. In essence, for me, this is central to helping and developing people to support people more effectively, it is hoped.
Perhaps this is best summed up in the film, To Kill A Mockingbird (1962). The film features Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch defending a black man falsely accused of rape in this court room drama. Perhaps, lets go be much bolder.
What am I going to do in an attempt to improve teaching and learning?Activity 1 and Activity 2 described.
Empathic Learning This is not a stand alone theory. It is embedded and inherent in many of these processes. Gair (2008) discusses the merits ofempathic listening, communication processes and achieving accurate empathy. Hodges and Klein (2001) conversely discuss empathy in terms of using our cognitive ability in a helping role as well as the impact of personality and self experience. Emotional Intelligence We always associate Goleman with Emotional Intelligence. Clearly, there are others, the aforementioned, Kite and Kay (2012). The Godfather, Goleman describes the importance of empathy at the heart of his Emotional Intelligence theory. Key features include, developing self awareness, relationship building and altruism. Multiple Intelligence Gardner is the chief protagonist of this theory. The poignant intelligence emerging within this theory is interpersonal intelligence. The linkage to empathy is clear, Gardner describes interpersonal intelligence as understanding other people and their feelings. Also relevant here is Intrapersonal, this is framed as understanding one self in a social and communicative process, self regulation and self awareness. How do we manage the thoughts and feelings that occur in our interactions? Experiential Learning From a process point of view, my activities very much mirror the four stage cycle which Kolb documents as, concrete experience, reflection, abstract concepts and active experimentation. But lets look beyond Kolb. Ferris (2009) focuses on developing social and self awareness leading to emotional intelligence through role play, blending in the analytical, respect for diversity and difference. Zucherro(1998) adopts a morecognitive based approach (mental health) providing a real life experience of another and creating activities to increase knowledge and sensitivity. This is seen to be indispensible in the therapeutic relationship. Action LearningIn brief, this is an adult learning area which focuses on learners working in small groups who develop knowledge by dealing with real issues with reflection and proposed action. It is McGill and Brockbank’s work that I have instantly seen as valuable, they describe empathy as a skill ‘sometimes rare in social interaction’ and focus on the power of emotion, differing empathy types, and again, self awareness in relation to action learning. Co-operative learning Again, this involves small groups working on differing activities, improving their understanding of the subject or topic / task whilst helping each other to learn to achieve that understanding. A number of theorists touch on the interpersonal Slavin (1995), for example. There is a focus here on problem solving, re-thinking concepts and ideas, joint communication, dealing with the conflicts that arise out of difference of opinion within the group.
To end, in revisiting the importance of proposing this topic and theme in teaching and learning.
The Empathy Detective
The Empathy DetectiveUncovering and Enhancing Empathy and Emotion in a Mental Health Training Practice Simon Muir
Setting the Scene Mental Health Training and Education Variety of Topics and Subjects Who are the learners? What do they do?
The PositiveCase studiesQuizzes and self testsVideo and audio clipsGroup discussion / debateWriting and explaining tasksProblem solving in smallgroups Employing the critical lenses Brookfield (1995)
Why is this important?Steiner (1999), Achieving Emotional Literacy
‘You never really understand a person until you considerthings from his point of view....until you climb into his skinand walk around in it’ (To Kill A Mockingbird, 1962)
‘Emotional factorsare much more importantthan qualifications’‘They are the essentiallubricant in the establishmentof empathy and rapport’(Kite and Kay, 2012, p 82)
So, What Am I Going To do?• Activity 1: Role Play Exercise on Voice Hearing (Understanding Schizophrenia)• Activity 2: Real Life Narrative (Understanding Recovery in Mental Health)
Ferris, 2009Role Play Probing the TheoriesZucherro,1998 Emotional Empathic LearningClient Intelligence (Gair, 2008, HodgesExperiences (Goleman, 1995) and Klein, 2001) Experiential Learning Co-operative Learning (Kolb, 1984) (Slavin, 1995) Action Learning Multiple Intelligence Empathy (McGill and (Gardner, 1993) Brockbank, 2003)
Potential Barriers Can real empathy be Many people have assumptions taught? ( and prejudices hampering Martinuzzi, 2006) awareness ( Kite and Kay, 2012) ‘creeping cynicism’ (Haslam, 2007, p 36)Some people more Associated withadept (Hodges and ‘compassion fatigue’Klein, 2001) (Haslam, 2007, p 36) We all have capacity, learning can Can be built on, becomes engender ‘empathic arousal’ stronger as we try (Hourdequin, 2011, p 405) (Martinuzzi, 2006)
ReferencesBaron – Cohen, S (2012, p 130) Zero degrees of empathy: a new theory of human cruelty. London: PenguinBrookfield, SD (1995) Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. New York: Jossey BassFerris, WP (2009) ‘Demonstrating the challenge of behaving with emotional intelligence in a team setting: an on line / on groundexperiential experience’ Organization Management Journal, 6(1) : pp 23 - 38Gair, S (2008) ‘Walking a mile in another person’s shoes: contemplating limitations and learning on the road to accurate empathy’Advances in Social Work and Welfare, 10 (1): pp 19 – 29Gardner, D (1993) Frames of Mind: Theory of Multiple Intelligences. New York: Basic BooksGoleman, D (1995) Working with Emotional Intelligence. London: BloomsburyHaslam, N (2007, p 36) Introduction to Personality and Intelligence. London: Sage PublicationsHordequin, M (2011) ‘Empathy, shared intentionality and motivation by moral reasons’ Ethic Theory Moral Practice, 15 (not defined) : pp403 - 419Hodges, SD and Klein, KJK (2001) ‘Regulating the costs of empathy: the price of being human’ Journal of Social Economics, 30 (notdefined) : pp 437- 452Kite, N and Kay, F (2012, p 82) Understanding Emotional Intelligence: Strategies for boosting your EQ and using it in the work place.London: Kogan PageKolb , DA (1984) Experiential Learning: experience as the source of learning and development. New Jersey: Prentice Hall
References (continued)Martinuzzi, B( 2006) Empathy and Leadership. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLdr_75.htm. [Accessed 21 September 2012].McGill, I and Brockbank, A (2003) The Action Learning Handbook, Powerful Techniques for Education Professionals,Development and Training. London: Routledge FarmerSlavin, RE (1995) Cooperative Learning: Theory, Research and Practice. Boston: Allyn and BaconSteiner, C (1999) Achieving Emotional Literacy, A Personal Program to Increase Emotional Intelligence. London: BloomsburyTo Kill A Mockingbird (1962) Film. Directed by Robert Mulligan. USA: Universal PicturesZucherro, RA (1998) ‘A unique model of Training Mental Health Professionals to work with Older Adults’ EducationalGerontology, 24(3) : pp 265 - 278
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