THE COMPLETE EMPATHIC ACT
Kibbutzim College of Education, Technology and Arts (ISRAEL)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2012 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Conference name: 5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 19-21 November, 2012
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:The interaction between teachers and students is considered the core of educational practice (Hargreaves, 1972), and quality teaching is considered to take place when there is a significant teacher-student interaction that provides mutual awareness of the other’s presence (Shady & Larson, 2010). The significant interaction enables student development and well-being in various areas – moral, emotional, social, and academic (Cooper, 2010; Hamre & Pianta, 2006; Tettegah & Anderson, 2007) ¬¬– as well as the teachers’ professional development and well-being (Split, Koomen & Thijs, 2011). It is the teacher’s responsibility to ensure a proper relationship with the student, and empathy on the part of teachers toward their students can help them fulfill this responsibility (Anderson & Keltner, 2002; Miller & Wallis, 2011). According to Cooper (2010), profound empathy contribute to the establishment of the relations themselves, and to the effective teaching, learning processes, and moral development that take place in such a setting. The importance of empathy in the teacher-student relationship and the teacher’s responsibility to facilitate it, provide the general conceptual basis for our argument: empathy is one of the essential basic competences of the professional teacher; therefore, teacher educators must improve and reinforce it in preservice teachers programs (Cooper, 2010; Tettagah & Anderson, 2007), and in in-service settings as well.
In this paper we have attempted to contribute to the clarification of the concept of empathy in educational context by formulating an integrative approach called the Complete Empathic Act (CEA) and conceptualization of its dimensions. The three dimensions of CEA that have been elaborated in this study: empathic understanding, empathic awareness and empathic behavior - point to the complexity of the empathic act from the perspective of the vast array of skills required, while explaining the potential of empathy as a tool that empowers both the person who expresses it toward another and that other person as well.
In the context of teaching training programs, we suggest that the CEA is the expression of a substantial competence required of professional teachers. It is composed of three components: a) the ethical starting point b) identifying and understanding the internal state of the student’s perspective and c) taking responsible action that benefits the student’s state and fosters their well-being and development.
A course for improving and reinforcing empathy of preservice teachers was developed and applied according to CEA approach, in a framework of teacher retrainingr program for academics. The purpose of the course was to increase students’ knowledge and awareness of empathy as a basic competence of professional teachers, and to reinforce their empathic acts as future teachers. In this way, we will hopefully encourage them to expand their practical knowledge and help them form an identity as “reflective professionals” (Schon 1987, 1988). This paper is an attempt to establish and reinforce the importance of this approach within the concept and practice of quality education among preservice teachers.
Keywords: Empathy, teacher education, teacher-student interaction, professional development.