The below article was published in the Wimbledon Guardian on 9th March 2017.
A private school in Wimbledon is offering ‘empathy lessons’ to pupils to help counteract the modern technology obsession.
The head teacher of King's College School, Andrew Halls, said he thinks it is important for younger pupils to understand what is “really important” in a world increasingly inhabited by virtual reality.
Mr Halls said: “We have to establish what is important. Not just clothes and virtual spaces and what people think of you on Facebook, but basic human fundamental values. Artificial intelligence is talked about more than anything else in business: what jobs can be done by computers, or done by robots. But, more than ever, it’s important to talk about what is real and important in human beings. It would be a great irony if we became so addicted to our phones and computers that we lost touch with reality. “
King's College School have now included empathy lessons into the curriculum in the form of ‘Loving Classroom’ workshops. The workshops, for Year 7 students, focus on teaching children about respect, compassion, listening, kindness, gratitude, love, care and friendship.
Mr Halls also rejected claims that students at the prestigious secondary school, with annual fees of over £20,000, are in particular need of learning about empathy. He said: “To me, it’s a little frustrating that we can’t talk about something abstract without it being applied to our own school. It’s nothing to do with class or wealth. It’s an issue for a society that has made incredible technological advances. I don’t want kids to lose the love of the countryside, or of each other, or of face to face contact. In a world of virtual reality and photo-shopping, we need to remember the importance of imperfection.”