Empathic Intelligence: The phenomenon of effective pedagogy

Year: 2004

Author: Arnold, Roslyn

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The phenomenon of learning defies easy explanation, but when people attune to each other something significant can happen in the space between them. 'Empathic Intelligence' attempts to articulate aspects of the intersubjective and intra-subjective phenomena of pedagogy. It articulates some aspects of the practice of educators committed to understanding the qualitative and sometimes ineffable aspects of their professional work. An empathically intelligent educator is able to create a dynamic between thinking and feeling, in a context which is perceived as caring. They demonstrate a number of qualities, attributes, predispositions and abilities, in particular those which are demonstrated through enthusiasm, capacity to engage others, expertise and empathy. At its best, empathically intelligent pedagogy can be transformative. It can mobilise tacit abilities, create affirming emotional templates for learning and support the development of higher-order cognitive abilities.

So how does all this happen? This paper will outline some of the theoretical antecedents and principles informing empathic intelligence, including recent brain-mind research. The nature of empathy, enthusiasm, expertise and capacity to engage, along with the function of intelligent caring and respect for individual dignity, will be elaborated.