Now more than ever, in the modern world of virtual and digital connection, the ability of younger generations to learn how to empathize on a personal, physical level is a crucial factor in education. Adults, however, seem to put the priority of teaching empathy on the back burner— but if anything, it should be on the forefront.
At the end of the day, children are a reflection of us and empathy is an important skill that helps us communicate with the outside world, especially in interpersonal relationships. For starters, empathy is a learned skill that is formed under the influence of an authoritative or significant adult. Of course, some children are born with an innate sense of empathy; it is akin to intuition or the ability for languages or music; however, the outside world plays a big role in whether that empathy is cultivated and sustained.
To this end, even in the presence of innate compassion, a child, growing up, loses this ability if he or she does not see proper confirmation from the family or society on how to empathize with others and have a distinct sense of understanding the people around them. And it brings to question the result— aren’t we left with a society full of people who lack empathy and feel nothing towards those who feel bad or hurt? How is that productive?
Everyone should be taught the nuances of emotions that anyone can experience at any given time, for example upset-crying, the moment someone angrily clenches their fists, rejoice-dancing, singing, fun-laughing. When it comes to a child, the most effective way to develop empathy and learn the array of possible emotions one can feel is through feature films, cartoons, performances, and, of course, fairytales. Let’s take a look at an example of a modern-day fairytale that helps grow emotional intelligence: “Zemliniksy”.
The Premise Is This
the author is a young and successful mother of many children, Irina Kotlyarevska. This fairytale is set in a fantasy narrative that reveals to the little reader about human qualities and their manifestations in our lives including the issue of land exploitation and air pollution, as well as climate change. A child reading the story learns to understand and empathize with grown-up problems and together— with the heroes of the book— finds a worthy solution. In this way, the book “Zemliniksy” truly teaches not just empathy, but active empathy.
Specifically, there is a six-year-old hero in the book who changes the world for the better; he not only has a kind heart, but also he has a “hearing” heart. A child, reading this fairy tale, identifies himself or herself with the hero as someone who can emotionally connect and engage in important situations, and this is a positive example in the formation of a stable sense of empathy.
What it comes down to is this: people who have a highly developed sense of empathy are able to avoid conflicts, recognize deceit, avoid antisocial behavior, build a career easier, and be more productive at work. Society as a whole would be better off if generations were raised with empathy and it is therefore stories
like these that are crucial for the next generation’s education. Empathy in itself is a vital value for all of our lives and should be a priority in any child’s educational upbringing.
Irina Kotlyarevska Zemliniksy
Warsaw: European World Publishing, 2020. – 55 p. ISBN 978-83-956397-2-2
About The Author
Irina Kotlyarevska is a Ukrainian writer of beautiful adventure books. She was born on June 19, 1981, and is best known as the author of popular books for children like “Землінікси” (2019), “Любомікси” (2019), “Про це” (2020), “Таємне життя Любоміксів” (2020), and “Розповідь майбутнього президента” (2020).
Books by Zemliniksy became popular in various
countries throughout Europe and have been translated into Russian, Polish, English, Spanish, French, and other languages.
In 2020, Zemliniksy was included in the list of publications like “Bryusselsky Vestnik” as the top 5 “most promising young writers in Western Europe”. That same year, she became a member of the Royal Society of Literature of Great Britain (The Royal Society of Literature).
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