In Denmark, empathy classes are a significant part of the national educational system.
Since 1993, they have included mandatory classes teaching valuable social skills to students from the age of 6 to 16.
In these empathy classes, students are being thought how to help their classmates and compete with no one else but themselves.
No wonder why Denmark is ranked in the top three happiest countries in the world for the last few years. According to the UN’s World Happiness report for 2019, the country holds the second place, following Finland.
The secret to their happiness might be hiding in their unique curriculum, including mandatory classes teaching students how to be compassionate and empathetic. The children have empathy lessons for one hour each week, during the ‘Klassens tid’ or ‘The Class Time’.
Surprisingly, many people don’t realize that empathy is a social skill one must learn through life experiences.
Teaching it in schools from a young age is crucial for the children’s’ development as considerate, sympathetic, and kind human beings. Moreover, it undoubtedly makes them more emotionally and socially aware, wich drastically reduces bullying among students.
The empathy program in Denmark starts in the very first year of school when the children are 6-years-old. It continues until they are 16. The essential purpose of these lessons is the students to spend time in a comfortable environment, where they can openly discuss any problems they may be having, so the class can try to find the best solution. This not only promotes individuality, but it also gives the kids a strong sense of community.
What’s more, these classes are teaching children how to be patient and supportive of one another. They are free to discuss any issue that’s been troubling them, whether it’s related to their school life or not. The teachers are helping them develop important soft skills, such as listening and understanding each other. And when there are no problems raised for discussion, the group just comes together and chills, talking about whatever it is on their minds.
But even when they are ‘just chilling’, they are subconsciously practicing the skills they have learned in the empathy classes.
“Together, the class tries to respect all aspects and angles and together find a solution. Kids’ issues are acknowledged and heard as a part of a bigger community. [And] when you are recognized, you become someone.”
Through Klassens tid, Danish students have the opportunity to share their emotions, to be heard, and to be encouraged by their classmates.
Each of them has the chance to be inspired and uplifted, as well as understood by others, which teaches them the importance of mutual respect and emotional tolerance.
Most importantly, these classes are teaching children how to bring back the ‘kind’ into ‘humankind’. This way, kids are aware of what a massive impact a single kind gesture can have.