“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it” (Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird)
Empathy, it seems to me, is a pretty important quality to have and to cultivate in others. I’d like to a few resources that can help us do just that, and also invite readers to contribute additional suggestions.
Want to know what English sounds like to a non-English speaker? If you do, check out this video called Prisencolinensinainciusol . It’s a music video made by Italian actor/singer Adriano Celetano that’s supposed to mimic exactly that…and it’s delightful:
Here’s another Italian song performed in English “gibberish.”
In keeping with that theme, check-out these videos showing what animal noises sound like in other languages.
Here’s a “fake English” dialogue:
If you want to get a sense of what it’s like to have a learning disability, go to the PBS website Misunderstood Minds. It lets you try out having reading, writing, attention and mathematics challenges. (Thanks to Karen Janowski for the tip).
Get an idea of what it might be like to have multiple sclerosis at HavingMS.com.
Here’s another site and lesson idea:
How Americans See Europe is a funny, accurate (in the sense that I believe it reflects what many Americans believe), and very sad map showing the stereotypes that many people in the United States have about Europe. My first thought was that it would be great to help teach Perception in my International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge class. And I do think that’s still a good idea.
But then I got to wondering if there was any way I could use it with my English Language Learners.
I don’t think the map itself would be very accessible to them. However, I could adapt the idea.
I’ve written in my book, English Language Learners: Teaching Strategies That Work, about having my Hmong refugee students the stories they heard in the Thai camps about the United States (we ate people, etc.). It would be interesting to do a more in-depth lesson with ELL’s the perceptions they think people in their country have of the U.S.– and why. Then they could if they’ve found any to be true. In addition, they could what perceptions they think people here have of their native country, and why.
It could make for some interesting discussions and excellent learning opportunities.
I’m adding several other similar maps to this list:
Mapping European Stereotypes shows many maps of Europe seen through the eyes of people from different parts of Europe. They, too, are funny and insightful.
The World According to San Francisco is another one that can be described the same way.
Anholt-Gfk Roper Nation Brands Index™ tells what a “panel of over 20,000 ordinary people in 20 different countries really think about other countries: the people, the products, the governments, the culture, the education, the tourist attractions and the lifestyle.” It’s pretty accessible.
The Lottery Of Life is a neat site from Save The Children. It gives you a chance to see how your life might have looked if you had been born in another country.
“Experience The Haiti Earthquake” is an impressive interactive from the Canadian organization, Inside Disaster. It lets you virtually “experience” the quake through the eyes of a survivor, a journalist, or an aid worker.
I’ve mentioned the “Mapping Stereotypes: The Geography Of Prejudice” site earlier in this list. They’ve recently added some new maps. Their maps show places as how other see them — how Germans see the rest of Europe, how the U.S. see Europe, etc. In looking at them again, I came up with the idea of having my IB Theory of Knowledge students study the idea of “perception” by using these maps as model and make maps of our school — looking at it through the eyes of a teacher, a freshman, and a senior. It should be interesting.
“If It Were My Home” is a neat interactive that compares the standard of living in the United States to any other country of your choice. The site also has some other neat features.
I’ve learned about the PBS website and film (available online) titled “A Class Divided” (and I learned about it from the excellent resource “TeachersFirst,” which I’ve described on more than one “The Best…” list).
Instead of reinventing the wheel, I’m just going to reprint the description written by TeachersFirst:
This is one of the most requested programs for effectively conveying the reality of discrimination, what it feels like, and how it can change a person. Frontline, the PBS news-magazine show, produced this gripping piece that tackles the controversy, complexity, and consequences of discrimination that have shaped our society. This film and collection of activities are based on the 1970 documentary of the daring lesson that teacher Jane Elliott taught her third-grade class to give them a firsthand experience in the meaning of discrimination, immediately following the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. The film shows what she taught the children and the impact that lesson had on their lives. It includes three major segments: the footage of the original documentary of Jane Elliott’s third-graders, (approximately 20 minutes), the reunion of those third-graders 14 years later who talk about the effect her lesson has had on their lives, (approximately 7 minutes), and also Elliott teaching her lesson to adult employees of Iowa’s prison system and how their reactions to her exercise were similar to those of the children, (approximately 20 minutes). A Teachers’ Guide, as well as an abundance of supplementary materials that allow students to wrestle with realistic ideas, are available on this site.
“The World of Useless Stereotypes” is from The New York Times.
Lindsey suggested this two-part film called “Babakiueria.” As she describes it, it ” is a satirical portrayal of white and Aboriginal interactions in Australia, through a role reversal in which whites are the minority.”
How Europeans Know You’re American is a slideshow from LIFE.
What’s it like to be 75 years old? Try this on is an intriguing article about a suit for designers so they get a sense of what it feels to be…75 years old. Here’s the video that goes along with the article:
Here’s a fun music video shot with a camera on a dog. It’s a light-hearted addition to this list.
You Are Blind is a site designed to give the user the experience of having vision loss. It’s received a lot of praise, though I think it may be over-hyped a bit.
Here’s how the creators of this video describe it:
Some people with autism have difficulty processing intense, multiple sensory experiences at once. This animation gives the viewer a glimpse into sensory overload, and how often our sensory experiences intertwine in everyday life.
Created as part of Mark Jonathan Harris’ and Marhsa Kinder’s “Interacting with Autism.” Coming in January 1st 2013, IWA is a three-year transmedia project funded by the federal Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ). University Professor Marsha Kinder, the Executive Director of the Labyrinth Project at USC, and Mark Harris are heading a team of filmmakers and artists working to build an interactive, video intensive website that will focus on the best available treatments for autism.
Here are a few useful links on empathy:
Barack Obama and the ‘empathy deficit’ is from The Guardian.
Understanding How Children Develop Empathy is from The New York Times.
Empathy vs. sympathy is from The Grammarist.
What is it like being a dog chasing tennis balls in a pool? Here’s a lighthearted addition to this list:
What does it look like to be played from a trombone’s perspective:
Try Being Me is a BBC site for children that they describe as being an “interactive dyslexia experience” where users get a taste of what it might be look to have dyslexia.
The Colour Blindness Simulator does what it says.
Auti-Sim describes itself like this:
The player navigates through a playground as an autistic child with auditory hypersensitivity. Proximity to loud children causes sensory overload for the player, impacting cognitive functions. This impact is represented as visual noise and blur, as well as audio distortion. Participants described the experience as visceral, insightful and compelling.
Here’s an ABC news video clip a portion of the game:
Here’s another example of how English might sound to non-English speakers:
Depression Quest is an interactive text fiction game (or choose your own adventure) where the player plays the part of someone who is suffering from depression. I learned about it at Richard Byrne’s blog.
The WolframAlpha search engine has a widget that lets you pretty much choose any object and see it through a dog’s eyes (you can read about why they have such poor vision here).
I’ve embedded the widget that lets you do it here:
This Strange Suit Simulates the Weight of Old Age is from The Smithsonian.
See Second Wind for more information about the dementia experience.
created by Abstruse Goose
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
How Animals See the World is from Nautilus.
A British non-profit has created a Facebook app that puts you in the shoes of a person suffering from dementia.
Here’s how the BBC describes it:
The FaceDementia app, by Alzheimer’s Research UK, “takes over” personal Facebook pages, and temporarily erases important memories, mimicking how dementia affects the brain.
Users can watch their personal photos, important details and status updates disappear before their eyes.
Their real page remains intact.
The app does not hold on to any data or scramble a user’s real timeline or Facebook information, instead presenting an overlay to show the effects of dementia.
People can also watch short videos featuring people affected by dementia explaining what impact the symptoms, simulated by FaceDementia, have had on them or their relative.
Here’s a video from the view of a Polar Bear. You can read more about it here:
Videos: “Anderson Cooper Tries A Schizophrenia Simulator”:
Video: Experience A Little Bit Of What Someone With Autism Feels….:
From Laughing Squid:
In Don’t Look Down on Me, little person filmmaker Jonathan Novick used a button camera to demonstrate how people in New York City react to his appearance. The resulting footage, which included inappropriate questions, offensive statements and surreptitious picture taking, along with some very insightful first-person narration make up this wonderful short documentary.
The most powerful part of the video begins at the 4:00 mark.
Two film-making students:
created an animated simulation of life through the eyes of a non-verbal child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) “and her constant struggle to cope with the world around her,” as they write in their artist statement.
That description comes from an article in the New York Times headlined Look At Life Through Autistic Eyes.
Here’s the video:
The Ad Council and the organization Understood have created resources to help us begin to experience what it might be like to have learning and attention issues.
First, here are a couple of PSA’s developed by the Ad Council:
Next, here are some interactive online simulations created by Understood.
Do you know of other similar resources?