Number One Way to Teach Empathy to Students

 Slow – Radiolab.

Kohn Ashmore

Kohn Ashmore (Jacob Boll) Image, Audio and Text Excerpt from

I was riding home today catching up on my podcasts and encountered this short from @wnycradio and was struck by this interview with Andy Mills.  The podcast is described as the following:

When Andy first met Kohn, he saw a college freshman in a wheelchair who moved slow and talked slow. But it only took one conversation for Andy to realize that Kohn was also witty and observant. They clicked so effortlessly over lunch one day that Andy went ahead and asked an audacious question: why was Kohn so slow? Kohn told him that when he was 8-years-old, he was hit by a car. He was in a coma for five months, and when he finally woke up, he everything about him was slowed down … except for his mind.

That lunch quickly led to deep discussions and lots of late nights spent joking around and playing music. But when Andy decided to interview Kohn on tape last summer, Kohn told him another story about himself that caught Andy completely off guard–and made Andy question what it means to be truly familiar with something … like the sound of your own voice, or that of a friend.

Radiolab shorts focus on the science aspects of humanity, but what I took away from this was far beyond science.  Kohn’s story is an interesting and arresting one, but I was immediately struck by Andy.  His patience, compassion and openness were inspirational to say the least.  It immediately made me think of the ways that we teach empathy and compassion in schools.  Admittedly, I got home and started googling empathy education and, of course, racked up a bunch of links; but, it only took me a second or two to realize the number one way we can teach empathy to our students is by modeling it everyday…like Andy Mills and Kohn Ashmore.



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