Empathy requires vulnerability and some work on the part of the empathizer. Empathy means that a child can inhabit a feeling with someone – he can imagine himself in someone’s else’ s position. This act is more of a feeling than a deliberate action. It is not the same as sympathy, which is feeling bad and sorrow for someone. It is a tuning in with how someone else is seeing and experiencing a situation.
Empathy is important but it has seldom been seen as something that is crucial for children to learn in school. Yet empathy is about inspiring people and empowering people. This skill has been seen as a softhearted nicety but it is an important to learn to emphasize is you want to be successful.
Empathy may be part of success in the 21st century. Thinking and creativity is regarded as vital skills but these skills are difficult to learn by reading a text-book.The Empathy Toy was originally designed to support visually impaired children but this toy has other qualities as well.
The Empathy Toy looks like basic building blocks with some notches and grooves that allow them to lock together. A child has to verbally guide a blindfolded peer through a manual construction process. An abstract and difficult to describe process. This toy may help children to understand that the world looks different from someone else perspective.
The toy is designed in a way that forces children to reveal their assumptions in their thinking and some cues are obvious such as “the square side”, which help him to discover what the other person is experiencing. The puzzles can only be solved through collaboration, and the children need to imagine what the other person is working on. Building a common language and trying to understand what the other person is working on is crucial. These skills help to develop a foundation upon which empathy can be built.
This is a Kickstarter project and you can read more about it here.