Literature at Play Workshop

Arts Education Benefits: Empathy

The arts are essential to education. Engaging young people in the arts has a positive impact on their cognitive, emotional and social development. This week we explore one of the many arts education benefits: Empathy!

The arts are essential to education. Engaging young people in the arts has a positive impact on their cognitive, emotional and social development. This week we explore one of the many arts education benefits: Empathy!

Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another

When a student participates in the arts they are asked to think from a different point of view. As a student begins to explore their character and take on the emotions of that character they learn how someone else feels and thinks, and because of this are able to apply these skills in real-world scenarios.

Did you know?

  • Almost 75% of students today rate themselves as less empathetic on the Interpersonal Reactivity Index than the average student 30 years ago
  • Because of mirror neurons, a student can experience empathy by sharing artwork or experiences
  • A study showed students who attended live theater scored higher on tests that measured their tolerance of diverse points of view and ability to detect emotions in other people

“The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy.” – Meryl Streep

A Literature at Play residency lasts anywhere from 4 to 36 sessions. During that time students create an original musical with their teaching artists and prepare to perform that musical for others. Students are asked to discover the characters in the story to see what that person is feeling and why they feel that way.

“Acting helped me understand the feelings of the characters.” – 5th Grade Student who participated in Literature at Play

“When emotion gets added, people are more interested in watching it.” – 4th Grade Student who participated in Literature at Play

Sources: Empathy Information, Empathy Statistics


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