Global Initiative Seeks to Transform Schools By Teaching Empathy

An Ashoka Changemakers competition is on the lookout for great ideas.

Strong academic skills aren't enough to guarantee success for 21st-century students. Now, one group is looking to broaden what our children are taught. Ashoka Changemakers, a nonprofit that provides tools and resources to help people improve their communities, is looking for entries for "Activating Empathy," a competition seeking to spotlight and support smart ideas, programs, and learning models that build students' abilities to collaborate and communicate effectively, resolve conflicts, and respect multiple perspectives.

Ideas submitted to the contest can be in any stage of development—from a proposal in need of seed money to an established program looking to expand—and can target a wide range of topics: "encouraging social and emotional development; unlocking new ways of viewing problems; championing children as real-world problem solvers rather than simply bystanders," or something else. Entries will be accepted through March 30.

Kiran Bir Sethi, an Ashoka fellow and founder of an innovative school in India, says she hopes to see submissions that "not only work towards developing empathy" but also focus on catalyzing "actions that have sustainable impact." The idea behind the competition is that we must send children the message that achievement isn't divorced from our humanity, she says. "We need to reward our children for doing well and doing good. Not either/or but both/and."

Photo via (cc) Flickr user flequi

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