The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Junior high’s newfound empathy

When looking back on junior high, only one word comes to mind: hell. We all have the memories of being laughed at and picked on or laughing at other people and picking on them.

“This one time a boy that I had a crush on walked up to me and called me ugly; I ran away crying,” first-year Kaley Fawcett said.

According to The New York Times, David Levine, the author of “Teaching Empathy” has been asked by middle schools across the nation to do workshops to educate young teenagers and their teachers to be more understanding and empathetic.

Apparently English classes are asked questions such as whether Friar Laurence was empathetic to Romeo and Juliet (this sounds strange to me seeing as how I never even got the chance to analyze Shakespeare in middle school, but that’s beside the point).

We can all think of at least one teacher and a dozen students that could have treated us better in junior high but that was the point of those three years; it always felt like an initiation into being a teenager to put up with bullies and evil teachers.

According to The New York Times, at one middle school in the South Bronx, Levine’s program has decreased the number of fights to three a month instead of one to three a week and even the referrals to the principal have dropped to five a month from roughly 20.

I vividly remember watching girls and guys fist fight in the halls over each other, families, or anything that they deemed worthy of a fight, and the idea that those fights could have been cut down so drastically with just a couple of years of empathy workshops is a weird thought.

As much as I support what Levine is doing for teenagers, I can’t help but think that maybe it would be a better idea to start teaching empathy in kindergarten and lead more communication workshops in middle school.

I remember in fifth grade being the target of a cleverly titled game, “Throw balls at Liz,” which, needless to say, was pretty horrific. I hated sports for years after that.

In middle school it seems that communication has become more of a problem with texting and online chatting sites. The empathy workshops would improve the complications with the new technology, but if they started teaching children at a younger age to be more understanding and empathetic then maybe all students would have a better time in every aspect of their education, through high school and college.

Our generation, unfortunately, missed the opportunity to participate in this whole workshop idea. However, even given that, we can still think about other people in our everyday life too, and realize that there is more to the world than our own wants and needs or our urges to gossip and bully people.

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