In Educating for Empathy: Literacy Learning and Civic Engagement, Mirra describes the value of teaching “critical civic empathy” in K–12 literacy classrooms. Distinguished from standard curricular uses of empathy that stress politeness at the level of the individual, critical civic empathy challenges students to take active steps toward questioning how imbalances of power and privilege arise and what assumptions should be questioned in order to address those imbalances. Mirra examines various teachers who center social issues in their literacy classrooms through the use of literature, the techniques of high school debate, research methodologies that see students as knowledge producers, and the use of technology to create community and learning opportunities beyond the classroom. She ends on a reflective note, recognizing that teachers must also be willing to question their own pedagogical habits and the accepted norms of their school communities when teaching critical civic empathy. By outlining the ways in which empathy is useful in an educational context only when used to promote critical thinking skills, student empowerment, and increased engagement, Mirra provides excellent guidelines for constructing more effective socially engaged curricula.
Dialectic of Empathy. A Book Review of Educating for Empathy: Literacy Learning and Civic Engagement.
Democracy and Education,
(1), Article 10.
Available at: https://democracyeducationjournal.org/home/vol28/iss1/10