Historical Empathy Through Teaching History


The present age is facing social problems that require a lot of attention to the education sector. Because of these problems there is a lack of historical events, written comprehension and lack of imagination.

Another Burmese, Miami and many other atrocities are the result of a lack of sensitivity and critical thinking. Unfortunately, the world is busy educating minds, but it does not succeed in educating souls. The modern world does not need education, but education of values ​​based on building tolerance, respecting other rights and rituals, and accepting the diversity that is the beauty of the world.

Therefore, to resolve such issues and inculcate empathy for others around, teachers should take lead. They should find different methods to engage students in critical thinking process and help them view the available knowledge from different perspectives and in a logical manner.

Human history is complex, as written by different people who look at events according to their understanding. History is sometimes biased because it is either written or directed by rules. Therefore, it sometimes causes confusion about one event and ends with conflict between people. These conflicts impede the progress of the nation and sometimes affect the image of society. The hero of one nation in history has a very negative image of others. Therefore, history must be seen and learned with a balanced approach.

Hence, to give a holistic view of history it is crucial to work on knowledge, skills and attitude of the people and encourage them to approach difference sources for clarity.

History is one of the boring subjects. The reason behind this is traditional teaching approach the teachers use to teach. Teachers usually use one sided approach and present the details in lecture form. I believe history is an interesting subject and should be regarded with interest. Teachers therefore, should use various ways to teach.

I believe classroom is the best platform that helps students to expand their horizon of thinking through different teaching approaches.

Historical empathy is a term that encourages learners to inquire about available information, to approach different sources and to demonstrate a thorough understanding of their facts in a holistic manner. The purpose of historical sympathy is to overcome boundaries. It helps the learner to change his mind by placing his / her feet in other shoes to evaluate different perspectives for a better understanding. As a result, it removes misunderstandings, clear concepts and respects others. Historical empathy enables the learner to appreciate feelings, ideas, opinions and respond to someone else’s attitude. It is one of the important skills that students need to learn to compare the past to the present and to deduce its meaning.

Adding to this, inquiry-based learning should be encouraged in history classroom to solve the problems of tomorrow.  Inquiry-based learning develops well understanding of the topic, analytical skills and encourages the students to think out of the box.

Moreover, Socratic approach also pays off in learning history as it opens the mind of students and help them study deeply.

Besides, thinking, role-play, projects, philosophical writing tasks, interview, historical place, field trip and inviting old people and researchers as a guest speaker are some of the policies that can benefit students learning and help them change their perspective regarding history. Such techniques will build bridge between school, home and community, and engage the students in enhancing their learning.

It is not an easy task to teach children historical thinking and entrench historical empathy. Therefore, management should engage academically strong background people as mentors for teachers. Proper trainings on teaching techniques is also crucial.

To change the mentality of the people and for bringing harmony and peace in the world teacher should play a role of transformation agent through their knowledge, skills and attitude.

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