Psychologist Calls for Education Reform with EmpathicEducation

Education reform is branching into the field of psychology, and many professionals are looking to create a more friendly classroom environment for K-12 students.

In a Huffington Post article published last week, Lee-Anne Gray, Psy.D and co-founder of the Connect Group outlined her experience at the Design Camp in San Diego, an event focused on educational development.

Gray focuses on the workshops surrounding empathy in classroom settings. In an older Huffington Post article published in May 2014, Gray stated that “it was a very grim day, when I began to notice the profound lack of empathy in education, particularly public education.”

Since traumatic events like the Columbine Shooting in 1999 and the Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting in December 2012, schools have been reacting very strongly to perceived threats. If there is a perceived threat, schools will often go into a very intense lockdown that can have negative long-term effects on students, teachers, and anyone involved in the process.

Educational Trauma is a term born from the aftermath of events such as Columbine and Sandy Hook, and was coined by Lee-Ann Gray. But it doesn’t just start there: Gray claims that schools have been perpetuating a system of unhealthy methods that identify students by their weaknesses rather than their strengths, their differences (race, learning style, learning disability, gender, etc.) rather than their similarities to their peers. Thus, students are constantly being reminded of which aspects they fall short in, and what makes them different from their peers.

Gray also believes that the classroom is like a cage for children, as they are expected to sit still for hours on end, and are deprived of physical and mental stimulants ranging from exercise to art classes. According to Gray, this calls for an education reform of sorts.

Thus, EmpathicEducation for a CompassionateNation was founded. At the end of January, the Design Camp took place and was led by various organizations that are part of EmpathicEducation for a CompassionateNation. Organized by The Connect Group, EmpathicEducation strives to create a more empathic and compassionate learning environment in K-12 schools through connection, healing, storytelling, and creativity.

Leaders of the movement hope to create a brand of education reform that transforms classrooms into positive spaces where children and adolescents can thrive. With the EmpathicEducation movement, school will become something that students look forward to, rather than dread.

Sarah Samel

Sarah Samel

Sarah Samel is an Emerson College senior Writing, Literature and Publishing student focusing on young adult fiction. When she’s not browsing bookstores, she’s blogging or jotting down ideas for new poems and stories.