Flikr Images

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We all know what a Danish pastry is — that delightful caloric bomb of glazed breakfast deliciousness. But what about a Danish classroom cake? And moreover, how can this help teach empathy?

In the Danish education system empathy is considered as important as teaching math and literature, and it is woven into the school’s curriculum from pre-school through high school.

The Danes’ highly developed sense of empathy is one of the main reasons that Denmark is consistently voted one of the happiest countries in the world (this year it is once again number one). Empathy plays a key role in improving our social connections, which is a major factor in our overall happiness.

What many don’t realize is that empathy is a learned skill.

One of the most interesting programs, that starts on the first day of school at six years old up and continues until graduation at age sixteen, is called “Klassen Time” or “the Class’s Hour.” It’s one of the ways Danes become so skilled at empathy as they grow up.

“The Class’s Hour” is set for a special time once a week, and it is a core part of the curriculum. The purpose is for all the students to come together in a comfortable setting to talk about any problems they may be having. Together, the class tries to find a solution. This could be an issue between two students or a group, or even something unrelated to school at all.

– Jessica Alexander

Read more: Teaching Kids Empathy: In Danish Schools, It’s…Well, It’s A Piece Of Cake