Walking, study, and story, in themselves, are each powerful ways of learning, and can each be used to build empathy, while tying that learning all together so that it sticks. Walking facilitates thinking, or reflection, often generating both empathy, especially if walking with others, and new ideas for further study. Study can also build empathy, of course, if directed down the pathway of thinking of others. Story, it is well-known, has long been used as a teaching and empathy-building tool in many societies throughout human history.
Today is day 9 of my traditional 67 lesson plan set for teaching in Adult High School Equivalency diploma and GED preparation night school classrooms. This particular lesson is meant to cover, mostly, some starter questions about the salt trade, with the related mathematics, reading, grammar, and history, but… What if we put them all together, as part of our Learning Toolbox?
1.) One example of walking to learn is found on page 46 of my book Stayed on Freedom’s Call, via some of the walking Black-Jewish Cooperation DC history tours I created. That page, as part of the entire book, is freely available on The Internet Archive in various formats.
2.) A second example is my favorite lesson, Day 17, of my holistic GED set of lesson plans for a five month semester. For many students, it should be possible to complete preparation for the HiSET or GED in that time. These lesson plans tie together the mathematics related to the lesson of that day with a history reading, often also a science reading, grammar, and a writing assignment, all designed to connect to a central theme, often using a mind-map or a chart to generate and reinforce the new ideas in connection with already learned material. The use of realia (objects or activities used to relate classroom teaching to real life materials) and kinesthetic (movement or hands-on building related methods, like making models with string or clay…) methods is also encouraged to aide in problem solving and recall, across the set of lessons.
3.) Then, third, is learning through story. By reading historical fiction, many adults have expressed the fact that they can learn more about historical or even current topics, like slavery as it contributed to the modern trafficking problem. Stories that explore difficult topics have long held the power to teach, and to change hearts and minds, like my serial story Ann & Anna.
And, 4.) which I forgot initially, is language learning, as a fourth tool for empathy building.
Using methods like these three broad techniques, we can make learning easier, more effective, and fun. This is crucial to building a more empathetic society.
We can Do Better.
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Shira Destinie Jones’ work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.