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The Social Neuroscience of Empathy$
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Jean Decety and William Ickes

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262012973

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262012973.001.0001

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Empathy and Education

Empathy and Education

(p.85) 7 Empathy and Education
The Social Neuroscience of Empathy

Norma Deitch Feshbach

Seymour Feshbach

The MIT Press

Empathy plays a central role in the educational process and can shape educational outcomes. Educators interested in empathy have traditionally focused on teacher empathy, in which the teacher is analogous to the counselor or therapist and the student is analogous to the client. The emphasis on teacher empathy is based on the assumption that the teachers’ empathic communication will enable their students to experience greater understanding and acceptance, resulting in more positive attitudes toward themselves and toward schooling. This chapter examines the link between empathy and education, first by discussing the educational functions of empathy and its impact on prosocial behavior and then turning to the relationship between empathy and aggression among students. It also explores the link between empathy and racial and ethnic prejudice, social tolerance, academic achievement, and emotional intelligence. The chapter concludes by describing the Curriculum Transformation Project, designed to apply empathy training to problems of social prejudice and aggression.

Keywords:   empathy, teacher empathy, education, prosocial behavior, aggression, social tolerance, academic achievement, emotional intelligence, Curriculum Transformation Project, social prejudice

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