Empathy, Technology, and How to Reduce School Suspensions by 50%

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Technology can do a lot of things in the classroom, but can it help educators be more empathetic towards their students? This week on the EdSurge podcast, we talk to Dr. Jason Okonofua, a postdoc at Stanford University, about just that. Okonofua is interested in how the effects of one person’s stereotyping and another person’s threat reverberate and escalate over time. He currently researches this interest in the context of education and criminal justice, and recently completed a white paper hypothesizing that an empathetic mindset will eliminate school suspensions. According to his research findings, published in a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, training teachers to have more empathy towards their students lowers suspension numbers by 50%, an incredibly high number when you consider that Jason’s trainings only include one 45-minute online session in the fall, and a 25-minute online session in the winter. Why are they so successful? And empathy something that can be taught through technology, or does it rely on that in-person element?​

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