Pandemic, political science and empathy in education


In the territory of time claimed by the coronavirus, everything has changed to such an extent that it will take a long time to be what we become of what we were. We were pushed into the online mode from the three-dimensional space of the classroom, the student and the blackboard. It was the only option available and whether it was a blessing or a deal, it must be done.

Students are always trying to cope with various stresses. They find it difficult to stay motivated, putting up with the loss of their last years at school, guilty of not being productive at home, of not meeting their friends. Many of them are still overcoming their trauma of facing and losing their parents, their loved ones because of this Covid. The nostalgic wave of lost moments haunts them. They experience fears, uncertainties and physical and social isolation, but always try to do more with less facilities available to them.

In such a period, empathy in the education system is indispensable. It is the need of the hour that we must make them feel valued by understanding them, what they feel and not by judging them by their outward behavior or their impression.

Empathy is about responding to the feelings of others. It’s like, “I want to understand how you feel and I’m here with you.” It’s like walking in someone else’s shoes.

It should not be confused with the term sympathy. Sympathy is feeling sorry for them, which in turn makes their pain worse and can lead us to look down on students. Empathy, on the other hand, is about understanding their perspective on a situation and making them feel like they’re not alone. It deploys automatically and cannot be limited to a single capacity.

Sometimes the rude behavior of students is not to distract your teaching but to get your attention. By asking them “Are you okay?” Is there something you want to discuss? Will help them navigate their behavior and will also help you overcome your own feelings of anger.

In addition to their physical and emotional state, they are also affected psychologically and the teaching of political science in these turbulent times has become quite difficult. They have become more aggressive, narcissistic and destructive in their outlook. News of deaths, unemployment, failures of the health care system, of the unresponsive system wreaks havoc on their raw minds. They are looking for answers to the brutal reality they are facing right now.

The failure of the system in this pandemic has created mistrust of the citizenship contract of the state, government and the system as a whole. This medical crisis precipitated a crisis in politics, ethics, education and democracy that shattered their belief in principle and they began to doubt the credibility of place and time. What the manual preaches does not complement what they see around.

In such a situation, they should be encouraged to ask what they are feeling and to listen to them carefully, to respect their point of view. We should not stay away from their difficult questions, but rather take these learning moments to politely make them understand how, when and why this event is happening. In such a situation, using a “fix it” phrase like “you have to do this…”, “you shouldn’t do it” will not satisfy their smoldering embers of questions. Instead, using thoughtful phrases like “it looks like you feel…”, “Sounds like you…” will contain this blazing situation.

Each answer does not always need an unnecessary intellectual reaction but a concerned approach. Their priorities may not match your goal for the day, so it’s good to spend the first five minutes of the class investigating what needs to be covered and how that particular topic needs to be addressed. By making them feel that their opinion matters and that their concern is the concern of others, they will feel responsible to one another. This will develop loyalty, sincerity and respect for diversity within the classroom and the community. Even a small act of kindness should be encouraged and applauded so that the negativity that has crept in will gradually return to normal. Put them in a situation and ask them how you would make them understand it better. These case studies will help them understand the situation on the basis of rationality.

The tough questions they ask should not be discouraged and their rude behavior should be rationalized and not redirected to them.

The teacher should not only teach empathy, but also practice it. The positive relationships then built will have more classroom engagement, better communication skills, a lower likelihood of bullying, and a less aggressive nature, which will make them responsible students, citizens, and future empathetic leaders.

The aim of teaching is not only to teach the wisdom of deceased writers or leaders, but to impart the culture, values, intellectual habits and empathy that will benefit through a relevant curriculum that is not limited not to prints and pages of books. We must try to clothe their bare, blunt opinion in language that has its sleeves of rationality, understanding and compassion so that their lost faith in society and the system can be restored.



The opinions expressed above are those of the author.


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