Sometimes Empathy is Hard for Teachers

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on July 26, 2019

For teachers who don’t hold additional jobs, summer vacation offers an opportunity for a hard reset—a time to recharge from the madness of the academic year and prepare for the rigors of the next one. But it’s hard to find solace in the slowed pace of summer when it’s only a matter of time before we will, again, feel the stressors of the classroom. The chronic stress at the heart of teacher burnout follows us all year long, and the consequences may be more far-reaching than we think. Though declines in teachers’ health and students’ academic performance are among the major consequences of teacher burnout, the emotional intelligence of our students is also at stake.

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Topics: Teachers, School Culture, Empathy

Use Historical Empathy to Help Students Process the World Today

Posted by Lina Mai on March 27, 2018

Empathy can be a powerful tool for action. Just look at how students across the nation mobilized to support the victims of the Parkland school shooting. But waiting for something drastic and tragic to happen is not the way we want to build empathy in our young people. So how can we use historical empathy—or “the process of understanding people in the past by contextualizing their actions”—to help them engage with history and process their own roles in the world today?

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Topics: Empathy

Need a New Year's Resolution? Practice More Empathy. Here's How.

Posted by Facing History and Ourselves on January 3, 2018

It's the season for resolutions. The beginning of a new year makes us promise ourselves to be more healthy or to get more sleep or to spend more time with family. But what about practicing more empathy—that is, the ability to sincerely understand and share someone else’s feelings? Jane McGonigal, world-renowned game designer and Director of Game Research and Development for the Institute for the Future, says you can. And she can tell you how.

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Topics: Empathy

How to Strike a Healthy Balance with Your Empathy

Posted by Emiliana Simon-Thomas on May 1, 2017

We often think of empathy as a virtue—it’s sometimes used synonymously with terms like “compassion” and “understanding.” But empathy is more complicated than that. Sometimes there’s that feel-good, tender variety that helps us connect deeply with and nurture others. Then there’s also the I feel exactly what you are feeling variety that weighs us down with feelings of unsolvable pain.

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Topics: Margot Stern Strom Innovation Grants, Empathy

How Can a Margot Stern Strom Innovation Grant Help You?

Posted by Stacey Perlman on April 5, 2017

Part of challenging our students is challenging ourselves as educators. That’s why Facing History is excited to announce the 2017 Margot Stern Strom Innovation Grants. This year, we’re challenging you to think about how you can bring “hard empathy” into the classroom. You could be one of 12 educators to receive $2,500 to bring your project to life.  

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Topics: Teachers, Margot Stern Strom Innovation Grants, Empathy

The Compassion Cap

Posted by Stephanie Carrillo on January 3, 2017

Right around the time the Syrian refugee crisis was at the height of its media coverage in the US, I noticed a familiar kind of backlash on my newsfeed. Amidst the photos showing desperate throngs of people escaping with only their lives, between the articles imploring me to donate or explaining how I could help Syrian refugees, I saw another kind of plea: "Don't let them in."

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Topics: Universe of Obligation, Empathy, Refugees, Refugee Crisis

How You Can Practice Empathy in Your Everyday Life

Posted by Facing History and Ourselves on December 21, 2016

Can you practice being more empathetic—that is, the ability to sincerely understand and share someone else’s feelings? Jane McGonigal, world-renowned game designer and Director of Game Research and Development for the Institute for the Future, says you can. And she can tell you how.

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Topics: Gaming, Social-Emotional Learning, Empathy, Community Conversations

Remembering the Future, Predicting the Present

Posted by Daniel Braunfeld on November 22, 2016

From November 13-14 Facing History and the Institute for the Future launched Face the Future, an online game for social change. For 30 hours, students, teachers, and community members from around the world gathered virtually to imagine the future of empathy. Daniel Braunfeld, Senior Program Associate for Special Projects, shares his experience playing the game, which is set in the year 2026—and how it is changing the way he lives in 2016. 

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Topics: Online Tools, Empathy, Community Conversations

Here's Why You Should Step into the Future with Facing History

Posted by Jane McGonigal on November 3, 2016

From November 13-14, Facing History and Institute for the Future will virtually gather secondary school students, educators, and community members from around the world  to play Face the Future: A Game About the Future of Empathy. Set in 2026, the game invites us to think about what empathy might look like—and how that future will impact the choices we make today. Read more from Jane McGonigal, world-renowned game designer and Director of Games Research and Development at the Institute for the Future, about why you should care about imagining the future. 

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Topics: Social-Emotional Learning, Empathy, Community Conversations

Education in Dealing with the Past: Can We Prevent Atrocity from Happening Again?

Posted by Clara Ramírez-Barat on May 10, 2016


Guest blogger, Clara Ramírez-Barat, shares how a two-year research project with the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is exploring innovative strategies to engage young people in justice and peace-building efforts through education. Facing History’s international director, Karen Murphy, has played a lead role in this emerging field. She wrote a case study for that project and previously teamed up with ICTJ to develop a children’s guide to the Kenyan Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission to help youth address complex parts of their country’s history.

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Topics: Genocide/Collective Violence, SEL, Empathy, International Justice

At Facing History and Ourselves, we value conversation—in classrooms, in our professional development for educators, and online. When you comment on Facing Today, you're engaging with our worldwide community of learners, so please take care that your contributions are constructive, civil, and advance the conversation.


Welcome to Facing Today, a Facing History blog. Facing History and Ourselves combats racism and antisemitism by using history to teach tolerance in classrooms around the globe.

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