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Will you wear stinky shoes?

Being able to have empathy is a superpower. It can stop arguments before they even start.

It can bridge huge differences of opinion.

It can bring strangers close together within a split of a second.

It can prevent wars and suffering.

And this is the reason why it is so vital to understand empathy and develop this skill.

As part of Glittering Minds programme for schools, we ask children –

What is Empathy?

Therefore, there I was, standing in front of a class of 8-year-old asking them this question.

The first child to answer said – helping someone feel better.

And then the second one said the phrase we all associate with empathy – Stepping in other people’s shoes.

I was wondering how they interpret this phrase. So, I asked – What does it mean to step in someone else’s shoes?

There was silence.

Then someone broke the silence and said - But it can be difficult if the shoe size is much bigger than yours or smaller.

The whole class burst out laughing. I wanted to hug this child as this sentence carried so much wisdom.

The other children picked on this direction and said –

And what if the shoes stink?

And what is there are marbles within them?

And what if there are thorns inside the shoes?

They were having fun playing with this concept without realising that what they said was very meaningful.

Can we really feel what it means walking in shoes that have thorns in them? And what if the shoes are torn, and we feel each stone we walk on?

And what if they have no shoes at all? Can we feel what it means to walk barefoot on all types of surfaces, during summer, winter and anything in between?

What does empathy mean to you?

How do you walk in someone else’s shoes?

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