6-7s Building Study: Progressive Education

The Golden Rule is Not Enough: Teaching Critical Civic Empathy in Troubled Times

The Golden Rule is Not Enough: Teaching Critical Civic Empathy in Troubled Times

Friday, November 2, 2018

During our Staff Workshop Day MCS staff and faculty attended the seminar, "The Golden Rule is Not Enough: Teaching Critical Civic Empathy in Troubled Times," hosted by Nicole Mirra. Ms. Mirra is an assistant professor of urban teacher education at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Graduate School of Education. She shared her most recent work, Educating for Empathy: Literacy Learning and Civic Engagement with staff. Educating for Empathy “presents a compelling framework for thinking about the purpose and practice of literacy education in a politically polarized world.”

During the Friday afternoon workshop, Ms. Mirra proposed an empathy model that encouraged educators to consider how power and societal inequalities influence literacy in the classroom and how modern teachers can reimagine literacy as a means of citizenship. Both Ms. Mirra’s book and training review ELA instruction and literacy activities that can be modified to promote empathetic critical thinking among students. 


Anna and Laura have shared their critical observation and professional notes on "The Golden Rule is Not Enough" for the MCS Community to consider.

Rethinking Empathy  to Embrace Critical Civic Empathy

o   Hard to imagine that someone else’s experience.
o   More than the Golden Rule or putting yourself in someone else’s shoes; it’s a lot more difficult.
o   We need to do some serious work to reach empathy- if it doesn’t change what we do in the world- what does it matter?
o   Current rationale for teaching empathy as part of social/emotional learning is to do better in standardized testing.
o   How do these traits lead to a good democracy; we need to not teach complacency!
o   Does self- regulation mean don’t rock the boat?


Literature: Gateway to Empathy

o   We can look at children’s books with the critical literacy questions
o   Whose voice do we hear? Whose voices are absent?
o   What does the author or illustrator want you to think?
o   What are other ways to think about the same idea (topic, event, situation)?
o   Who might need help to make the situation more fair (just, democratic)?


Youth Participatory Action Research- YPAR

o   Flipping the traditional research model on its head
o   Young people are not just the objects of research.
o   Based in counter narrative- deficit portrayals
o   What is the purpose of the research?


Restorative Justice: Empathy Circles

o   Guilt vs. Community
o   More of a focus on community and healing
o   Working towards “wholeness”
o   Circle- a safe place where people come together to discuss, voices are valued
o   Restoring the whole
o   Ask- what is worrying you?  What are you hopeful about?