According to the UN’s World Happiness Report, Denmark is one of the top three happiest countries in the world. And one of the reasons why people in Denmark are one of the happiest is the fact that learning empathy has been a mandatory subject in school since 1993.
Empathy is extremely important in building healthy relationships and preventing school bullying. Moreover, empathy helps in promoting the success and growth of managers, entrepreneurs, and leaders. Teenagers that are learning empathy tend to be more focused towards reaching their goals than their narcissistic peers.
The Danish curriculum has an hour a week dedicated to studying empathy. The class is obligatory from students aged 6 to 16 years. This class which is called “Klassens tid” is just as important as mathematics or English. During the class, students talk about their problems and then the whole class together with the teacher offers a solution that is based on empathy, listening, and understanding.
If, however, there aren’t any problems for solving, then the students are enjoying “hugge” which means “intentionally created intimacy.” This is very important since in Denmark tends to get very gray and dark early in the year, and so this way children learn how to bring warmth and light into their lives. They build friendships and create an intimate, welcoming and relaxing atmosphere that they all enjoy.
Moreover, Danish students learn empathy through teamwork that is included in 60% of all the school tasks. That’s why students in Denmark are extremely responsible when it comes to helping those students who are not as gifted as they are because they have learned not to focus on competition and excelling over others. All these reasons make Denmark one of the best Europe countries for work.
And when we talk about competition, Danish students are taught to compete only with themselves, not with others. Instead of receiving trophies and prizes for a job well done, students in Denmark practice motivation and ways to improve, but their skills are only measured in relation to themselves.
Moreover, there is collaborative learning where students with different strengths and weaknesses are brought together to help each other with their work on different projects and tasks. This method teaches them that they are stronger when they work together, as a team.
“A child who is naturally talented in mathematics, without learning to collaborate with their peers, will not go much further. They will need help in other subjects. It is a great lesson to teach children from an early age since no one can go through life alone”, says Jessica Alexander.
She then continues: “Many studies show that when you explain something to someone – like a math problem for example – you not only learn the subject much better than you would do by memorizing it yourself, but you also build our empathy skills which are further strengthened by having to be careful about the way the other person receives the information and having to put oneself in their shoes to understand how learning works.”
Finally, empathy classes give a lot of joy and satisfaction to Danish students while preparing them to be responsible and happy adults.