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(Berman 2004)

Book: Empathic Teaching: Education For Life
A thoughtful study of the impact of teaching on student lives

DOI or Website Link:
Publication:  Book
Authors:  Jeffrey Berman is professor of English at the University of Albany
Date:   December, 2004

He Reviews
  •  Jeffrey Berman - relational model of education
  • Heinz Kohut - pg 95 - empathy is an investigation tool
  • Carl Rogers - needed for growth
  • Emmanuel Levinas - sees a dialogical relationship between self and others
  • Martha Nussbaum 
    •  difference between empathy and sympathy
    • empathy can lead to distress
  • Daniel Batson  - empathys dark side
  • Mary Field Belenky - empathy is way of connected knowledge
  • Judith Jordon - Wellesley Stone Center - mutual empathy - self in relation
  • Jean Baker Miller, Irene Pierce Stiver - Mutual Empathy
  • Sandra Petronio - disclosure contributes to progression of relational intimacy 
  • John Bowlby - attachment theory
  • Steven Covey - five levels of listening
  • J. Brooks Bouson - "what is central to the empathic mode of listening"
  • etc.

During the past decade, Jeffrey Berman has published widely on the pedagogy of personal writing. In Diaries to an English Professor (1994), he explored the ways in which undergraduate students can use psychoanalytic diaries to deal with conflicted issues in their lives. Surviving Literary Suicide (1999) investigated how graduate students respond to novels and poems that portray and sometimes glorify self-inflicted death. And in Risky Writing (2002), Berman considered the ways teachers can encourage college students to write safely on a wide range of subjects often deemed too personal or too dangerous for the classroom, from grieving the loss of friend to confronting sexual abuse.

Empathic Teaching builds on that earlier work by showing how a pedagogy based on understanding the other can transform the experience of learning.
Berman begins with a discussion of several well-known stories and films featuring literature instructors who exert a formative influence on their students, including Good-byeMr. ChipsThe Blackboard JungleUp the Down Staircase, and Dead Poets Society.

 He then goes on to examine the pedagogical importance of empathy, trauma, and forgiveness in helping students cope with the ordinary and extraordinary challenges of everyday life. Subsequent chapters are devoted to an analysis of actual student writing—powerful, insightful, authentic essays about lived experience that reveal both intellectual and emotional growth.

In the book's final chapter, Berman considers the risks and benefits of empathic teaching, demonstrating how teachers can play a therapeutic role in the classroom without being therapists. Teachers who are regarded as trusting, supportive, and dependable, he argues, become attachment figures, influencing students to be more sensitive to and connected with their classmates' lives. Or, as Berman succinctly puts it, empathic teaching leads to empathic learning, an education for life.

Quotes: (Any pithy quotes)

Topic Area: (In which field / sector / perspective was this study conducted?)
  • teaching

Definition(How was empathy defined?)

Benefits(Were any benefits of empathy mentioned?)
  • "empathic teaching leads to empathic learning: student becoming more sensitive to and connected with their classmates lives."

Criticisms  (Were any criticisms, negative effects or risks of empathy mentioned?)

Methods(What were the methods used to train empathy?)
  •  students do self disclosure through writing and discussion

Target Group:  (Who participated in this study / training?)
  • students.

Measurements(About the assessment: How was the change in empathy measured before/after the intervention/method?) 

Result: (What was the result?)

Posted By:  Edwin Rutsch

(Any other relevant information)