Standing in the shoes of others

Have an experiential learning day where students are put through different experiences of people with different needs

Photo of Ming Yaw Loo
8 11

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Organize an experiential learning programme for students where they are put through different scenarios that will allow them to see the needs of different groups e.g. navigating the stairwell for blindfolded, having a meal with others in the dark, tying up their legs in order to mimic the joint and muscle stiffness of the elderly, copying notes with their non-dominant hand to help them experience the challenges of being dyslexic etc.

To help students reflect on their experiences, visible thinking routines like 'I used to think... Now I think...' can be given to allow students to move from concrete experience to abstract conceptualization. Commitment to empathy can be fostered through action plans by students on how they can personally support a chosen group of special needs individuals or to petition local government to do more to support that chosen group.  

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Photo of Megan McMahon
Team

Hi Ming! I would love to see this idea built out with the immersive activities and dig into the questions that you will be asking to focus on empathy. How might you frame the activities so that students approach them with sensitivity? Could the the students talk to someone who is in a wheel chair, or blind, or deaf? Is there a book or story they could read in conjunction? What do you envision this lesson/unit to look like over the week or the school year? Do you think the lessons are solely for creating empathy for people with disabilities or could they be used to build empathy for any situation? Would love to see this idea fleshed out in a google doc, that others could also contribute to--let me know if you need any help on getting started!

Photo of Jessica Lura
Team

Ming,
Seeing through someone else's eyes is so powerful. Have you done this with students? What were they responses?

Photo of Ming Yaw Loo
Team

I have not tried all the ideas at once but have seen some of them tried out by others e.g. dining in the dark hosted by visually-challenged individuals. I must say that I have been wanting to try a number of the ideas through a 'festival' of empathy where students are put through experiential learning activities that help them to understand in a deeper manner the needs of others.

Photo of Jessica Lura
Team

That's really cool!

Photo of Amy Tucker
Team

This is interesting. We have had "wellness" days at various schools where I've worked, and students have taken turns using crutches or a wheelchair, and they have walked around blindfolded with a guide, but they were brief and very superficial. I would be interested in going more in depth with creating experiences to foster empathy. Thank you for sharing this!

Photo of Michael Schurr
Team

Ming, I wonder if you would be interested in connecting with Make Connections by Amy Tucker . Seems like there might be a way you two can support one another. Amy is talking about using digital experiences, while you are suggesting physical experiences. Might be fun to connect and think about your ideas.

Photo of Margaret Powers
Team

These are some great activity ideas Ming Yaw Loo I wonder if there is a way to compile them to help represent a large array of diverse needs people have? How might we make these ideas accessible and sharable to teachers across the country to try in their classrooms?

Photo of Ming Yaw Loo
Team

It's a good idea to compile the activity ideas and share it with others.