Empathetic teachers enhance children's motivation for learning
Empathetic teachers enhance children's motivation and academic skills, such as reading, writing and arithmetic skills, according to a new study.
The Finnish First Steps research, currently ongoing at the University of Eastern Finland, the University of Jyväskylä and the University of Turku, found that the positive atmosphere created by the teacher also safeguards and increases children's motivation for learning.
The significance of empathy and a warm attitude in classroom remains an understudied phenomenon in educational sciences. However, research has shown that the interaction between the teacher and the pupil is more important for learning outcomes than structural factors such as educational materials and class sizes.
Furthermore, earlier studies have found the teacher-pupil interaction to be a significant factor during the early school years, but there are indications of this interaction playing an important role also later, when the academic challenges become greater and the protective teacher-pupil interaction can be less intensive.
Senior Lecturer of Early Education Martti Siekkinen of the University of Eastern Finland, said: “It is important that we learn about the mechanisms that inspire children to become active members of their school community, motivate them to study and set goals - in other words, to believe in their abilities to achieve these goals.”
According to Siekkinen, the first years of the lower comprehensive school, i.e. grades 1-3, are a critical period during which the child needs to have a safe relationship with his or her teacher. The teacher's empathetic attitude not only protects children's image of themselves as learners, but also against social exclusion by their fellow pupils.
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