The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 4, 2010
Commentary: Jeremy Rifkin, “Empathetic Education: The Transformation of Learning in an Interconnected World”
Maybe it’s time to ask the question of whether simply becoming economically productive ought to be the primary mission of American education. Shouldn’t we place at least equal attention on developing students’ innate empathic drives, so that we can prepare the next generation to think and act as part of a global family in a shared biosphere?
The extension of the classroom’s central nervous system to embrace the whole of civilization exposes students to their peers in widely different cultures, allowing empathetic sensibility to expand and deepen. Education becomes a truly planetary experience.
The global extension of learning environments in cyberspace is being matched by the local extension of learning environments in school neighborhoods. The walls separating classrooms and communities are breaking down. In the past 20 years, American high schools and colleges have introduced service-learning programs into the curriculum—a deeply collaborative learning experience.