Amy Willoughby and Alan Macdonald sharing their thoughts
Update by Helena Pielichaty, 30th April 2017
Patron of Reading has teamed up with EmpathyLab, a groundbreaking organisation which aims to use the power of books to teach children about that most essential of human conditions - empathy. Patrons willing to participate would be part of the EmpathyLab Author Army, helping to spread the word and perhaps even incorporate ‘empathy’ into their days with their patron school. There are currently ten pilot schools involved and the results so far have exceeded expectations. Miranda McKearney and her team hope to widen the scope further once funding has been secured and more evidence gathered and finalised. Support materials will be available too.
The good news is that we’re probably already doing a lot of what EmpathyLab is trying to achieve every time we visit our patron schools. We use books to engage children and encourage reading for pleasure. We talk about how we create our characters and decide how they should behave and react. We read exciting extracts where we’ve put our characters in unenviable or even dangerous situations. What should they do next? How will they escape? Why did he do that? How does she feel? That’s why authors are the ideal people to help schools put EmpathyLab into practice. Our books, even those not dealing with big ‘issues’ such as homelessness or the refugee crisis, help children connect and children who connect have higher levels of self-confidence, empathy and well-being.
The Patron of Reading initiative sees EmpathyLab as adding another dimension to partnership with our schools; an opportunity to give our tenure real meaning and depth and a brilliant way to keep the momentum going between visits. Better still, a means to use our books in a way that could lead not only to a greater enjoyment of reading but also to kinder, more thoughtful human beings.
Patrons who have been supporting EmpathyLab and working with the pilot schools include Alan MacDonald, Ali Sparkes Bali Rai, Gillian Cross and Helena Pielichaty.
For more information go to the EmpathyLab website and watch out for news and blog updates here.
The EmpathyLab panel at the recent author training day
Introduction to EmpathyLab - Schools Development Group
Why empathy, and why stories?
Why a Schools Development Group?
We are forming a time limited development group of pioneering schools to test ideas and approaches.
What’s in it for you
Who will be involved in the Group
What you will be testing and feeding back on
We will send a menu of options and you can work on as much or as little as you like. Ideally we’re aiming for whole school approaches, but as long as the Headteacher is aware and involved, elements could be trialled just by one class. Examples: