I recently read this report on my twitter account from the NPR site.

This bold initiative certainly got me thinking more about empathy.

I’m interested in your comments and reactions, and I invite you to read, reflect, and react.

Is this a good way to build empathy?

Imagine this : a high school assembly where students share their deepest, most painful secrets — and instead of judgment from their peers, they get applause.

That’s the approach Philadelphia’s Freire Charter School has taken in its effort to …………making empathy part of its curriculum.

For the students, it starts with a simple prompt: “If you really knew me, this is what you’d know.”

The students’ stories that emerge at these assemblies are startling and shocking. More importantly these stories resonate and are shared by peers and other students across the classes.

The school assemblies are convened in a nearby church setting and this context perhaps is another factor that enables and also protects the students.

One young man explained to his friends the daunting task of living with cancer, and at the end of his expose he put out a challenge to his classmates.

He tested them with this empathy-building exercise.

“I want everybody to stand up. If you really care about me and care about my issues, I want you to stand up.”

And they did, the church erupting with applause and cheers.

Dave Shahriari who is the organiser of this initiative explains that this focus on empathy is driven by a need to give his students a forum. A place, time, and a space where there is no criticism or judgement.

The results indicate that this learning community is evolving into a community that celebrates humanity and family values. Values that are indeed shared and understood.