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Interview Details

Interviewee:  Eve
Interviewer: Sveta

1. Demographic information
Sex: Female
Profession: Design digital education programs at Field Museum
Nationality:  American
Residence: Chicago

2. Do you think empathy needs to taught? To whom? And why?

I think it is pretty important to teach empathy [to teenagers]…  Yep. Empathy would be the ability to place yourself where the other person is at and trying to see the world from they see it.

3. How do you think it can be taught?
The way that we approach it is really through incorporating feedback mechanisms into our program. We have structured how the feedback is given. We take everyone to the same process. For example creating a video… students have to ask feedback to a peer… Then I do the same with them. It is not that I am teaching “empathy” but I take them to the process and for some it can be very difficult. 

The whole process of receiving feedback can be uncomfortable for learners. We don’t even expect our learners to get everything right. We try to reinforce the iterative process. It is a new way of thinking for our learners. 

4. Do you think you are an empathetic person? 
What made you that way/how did you become empathetic?
It is part of who I am, it is part of how I was raised

5. Exploring mental models
  • Why do you think people disagree or argue or fight? What drives people to that?
  • Why do people find it difficult to work out their differences?
  • Is there anyone you find it difficult to talk to? Why do you think that is?
  •  Is there anyone you do not even feel like talking to? (in your class, your family, your group, your city/town)?
  • Why do you think you feel that way?
  • What makes it easier for you to talk to people you don’t know/ who are very different from you?
I think our learners are very complex individuals. In adolescents we have a lot of going in their mind. They are still actually forming connections in their brain. Decision making skills are being developed very rapidly… Very different personalities, going through tremendous amount of emotional changes. Sometimes we know what is going with the kid’s emotional aspect, home, school… there is a lot going there that determines how teams are interacting. You model of what you see, the presence of lack of role models.

We have a lot of unconscious biases… ways of thinking about things. I think it has to remind ourselves not everyone sees the world the way we do. It is something it can be overcome but as an educator I need to constantly remind myself

6. Is there anyone you find it difficult to talk to? Why do you think that is?

For our learners I can’t imagine… my ability to fully understand where the learners come from is challenging. Some come from violent neighborhoods… I can try but placing me there is challenging.

Young people have really complicated lives. I am not a teacher to them and a parent to them, it is hard to try to connect with them and help.