Experiencing History, Learning Empathy

Empathy is both the ability to understand the perspective of others and share their feelings. It is what drives us to act in ways that benefit all, not only ourselves.

It is also a central concept in history education, where understanding the lived experience of people from the past depends on having empathy for them and their contemporaries.

Our client provides experiential history education for elementary school classes in which students, teachers, and parents spend two days aboard a 19th century sailing ship, acting as its crew at the dawn of the 20th century.

It is pretend, which is how children learn about others. It is authentic, which is how students learn history. It is a lived experience, which is how people learn empathy.

To evaluate this program, Gargani + Company developed new ways to measure empathy, social inclusion, and historical understanding. We implemented a randomized trial that was fast and inexpensive. What did we find? Children improved in all three areas.