Should empathy be treated as a core study skill?
Is empathy a fundamental emotion that we must carry forward into the digital era? Source: Kenan Buhic/ Unsplash

Progressing into the digital era, educators are questioning why empathy matters as a study skill.

A term that relates to the ability to understand, to sympathise and to have an awareness of another person’s feelings or position, it is a key element of what makes us human.

At least once in your lifetime, you would have caught a glimpse of empathy action.

It’s plastered over wall art, hidden in notebooks and radiating from your friend’s face when they emote with your situation.

Knowing how integral it is to today’s system, is it fair for education systems to neglect its strengths and to treat it as an added addition to a few lessons; rather than a core study skill that’s central to every child’s curricula?

After all, empathy is a skill that’s yet to be mastered by an automated mind. So those that hold onto their emotive communication skills may have a higher chance of elevating their career success.

Thinking outside-the-box and stretching your imagination, creative and emotive skills could be a fast-track pass to the future workplace.

Soon, automated tasks will take over jobs; robots will take over customer service systems and disrupt the professional dimensions of working roles.

Holding on to your ‘humanness’ will, therefore, be an advantage, something that makes you stand out from a field of graduates.

Empathy is everywhere, but how can schools incorporate it as a study skill in their curriculum? Source: Bewakoof/ Unsplash

On the other hand, educators may question how they can teach empathy.

A natural emotion, feeling compassion may not be an easy topic for students to conquer.

To strategise the way that empathy is taught in education, a group of four students and researchers at the Simon Fraser University School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT), designed an ‘EmotoTent’.

Taking a different approach, this is a concept that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to create a futuristic, holographic, interactive learning environment.

“In the EmotoTent, children learn to regulate their emotions. They interact by working together to feel certain emotions that control the holograms they produce.

“For example, in EmotoTent’s Adventure Game, children find their way through a haunted forest by supporting each other through empathy to feel specific emotions that reveal new pathways, unlock quest items and affect the actions of other characters in the game,” the school explains.

Connecting empathy with technology, the research team highlighted how these two different concepts can merge and work in favour of young students’ progression.

Despite popular opinion, infusing tech and education can provoke feelings of empathy. Instead of fearing its disadvantages, an educator can make use of its benefits.

Valuing tools such as virtual reality (VR), educators may make use of technology by placing students in computer-generated scenarios that trigger empathy, mindfulness and sensitivity.

In fact, study skill lessons that are dedicated to the education of empathy can be improved with the assistance of tech.

For future workplaces, analytical, data processing and other tech-based skills will undoubtedly grant you an edge, employment-wise.

Yet, to truly stand out, employers will be on the hunt for something different.

They’ll desire innovation, independent thinking skills and empathy.

So if academic activities or study skill sessions that neglect these skills are missing from your university, it’s the right time to request for a change in curriculum or a shift in focus.

The time is now; the future is near.

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