The 3Es of Middle School: Empathy, Encouragement, and Excitement

Dear Middle School Families,

In a Sunday Inquirer article, Angela Duckworth recently wrote about empathy. She shared a conversation she had with a friend about social inequality where she questioned whether it is truly possible to feel what another person is feeling. She added that she felt there may be limits to a human’s capacity for empathy. The question stuck with her long after the conversation, so she explored some research on empathy and came to realize she may be mistaken in her assessment of a human’s capacity for empathy. She came to understand that as a species “ we are capable of mentally untethering ourselves from our own narrative and imagining what it is like to walk a path entirely different from our own.” She asks us to think about empathy as “a muscle that gets stronger every time we are transported through stories into a life not your own.” Angela then recalls a quote from J.K. Rowling’s commencement speech at Harvard University:” Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.”  Middle Schoolers are often self conscious and self absorbed- let us encourage our students to be empathetic, to consider the details of what another person may be feeling or understanding and with that in mind pause before reacting - not easy for any of us but if each of us took this moment we can move towards understanding each other in a deeper way. A way in which we can offer encouragement and support to each other , listen with patience and kindness and recognize how much we as humans share. 

With this in mind, let’s recognize when a friend, a son or daughter, a mother or father or a teacher needs our understanding and encouragement. Each of us has within us the ability to offer a helping hand, a smile, a word of care to those around us. Let’s encourage each other each day to be empathetic, to be supportive of each other’s experiences and ideas and engage in thoughtful dialogue and discussion.

Think of the excitement we can create as a school community if we pause and consider the experience of others and if we encourage those around us to be empathetic each day. It is a challenge but a challenge that excites me because I know each of us is capable of making this happen here at Barrack.