The fourth part of a series of posts from the professional learning community at The Fabindia School, they are pursuing the three-year Professional Development Programme offered by the Learning Forward India Academy. The dialogue is part of the discussion about 'sensitivity' and how it differs from 'empathy'.
Payal Paliwal: While writing this down, I had the utter confusion of how to differentiate them. Being very similar and correlated this is how I came up with, with context to sensitivity and empathy.
Sensitivity for me means seeing more details, being easily affected by others behaviour. For example, understanding the lyrics of the song and not just the music, feeling emotional currents, observing people's reactions, being affected by whatever is going on in the surrounding, and in the society. Being sensitive means reacting to situations and surrounding by facial expressions, body language but not feeling the feel of those moments as in empathy. It means we can feel others pain, happiness, anger but we are not adapting them into our emotions.
Empathy means feeling each and everything that's going around us as if we were the one in that situation. It means trying to feel the pain, the problems, the happiness of others by stepping in their shoes. For example, getting depressed by seeing others depressed. Being sad, because the person near us is sad.
Being sensitive has positives and negatives too. When we can understand someone's situation, when we know how others are feeling, it allows us to deal with them in a better way. The communication becomes easy.
When we are sensitive, we behave more friendly and politely with people because we understand their situation.
Sensitivity helps us in teaching too. Teaching with sensitivity has the positive impact on a child. The child is encouraged as the teacher guides him, motivates him, understands the child's emotional behaviour. In a classroom with a sensitive teacher, students learn to see that teacher as a source of support, guidance, and reassurance. Students respond to that teacher well.
Aysha Tak: In recess break, a child was rushing towards his seat with a lunch box in his hand and all his food fell, scattered on the floor. He became so sad and tears were flowing from his eyes. His heart broke, he sat on his seat with a sad face. I as a teacher could feel his pain, I went to him.. Shared my lunch with him. I told his classmates also to share the meal. Again a smile was there on his face.
Kusum: As usual I was teaching in class. And all of a sudden one child hit another with a bottle.And the child got hurt .blood was coming I was scared, not beacause maam will scold me. But he was wound ed so badly. the child was taken to the hospital immediately i was crying A child from my class came to me and said me - maam why alre you crying. Aryan ( the child who got hurt) will be fine I was surprised by his words. He was able to feel what i was going throught He gave me strength that was a lesson for me - even kids are sensitive to our feelings
Dikshita Rao: Sensitivity is the quality which helps a person to be helpful to react and respond to others feelings. It helps a child to be more responsive towards their class and schoolmates. In school it is necessary for teachers to be sensitive and listen to them so that the students can freely approach their teacher during the time of difficulty. Students and teachers should show a positive attitude and help each other.
Surendra Singh : All living things have sensitivity. Sensitivity related to sense organs in living things. In human beings sensitivity is a stimulation according situations. Sensitivity is feelings for others. If we have sensitivity, we can understand others problems. Sensitivity is responsible for sympathy and empathy.
Prakash Dangi: In my music classes I found one child was very interested to play musical instrument and was brilliant in singing.Due to his family circumstances he had to leave his music classes . When I came to know about this I personally called him and assured him that I will not charge tution fees for him.After that he joined the classes back regularly.Now he is master in playing Casio.
Kavitha Devda: One afternoon during lunch break suddenly a girl came running telling that a bee had stinged her. So she started crying. I told her not to worry it will be alright within no time and took out the stinger with my fingernails. After that I holded her finger and took her near the door latch and rubbed her finger on that. Like this in many ways we can be sensitive towards children.
Parents should continue to resond to toddlers and older children with sensitivity as well. A parent's role is to comfort and empower the child, not to stifle the emotions by becoming angry or punishing the child. At every stage of a child's life, parents who respond with sensitivity approach behavior by looking at the needs and wants underlying the behavior.
As teachers, we should be sensitive towards our students. We should empathise with them. These are the most vital skills a teacher should possess.