The ability to sense and imagine what others are thinking and feeling is fundamental to the concept of Great Learning. Of particular importance, is the concept of cognitive empathy, which refers to an individual’s ability to sense and understand what others are thinking.


Empathy enables learners to collaborate within teams, demonstrate mindfulness and is an essential component of effective social interaction.  For example, when working in teams, cognitive empathy provides individuals with an understanding of the other team members’ thoughts, motivations and feelings.  Team members are therefore able to reflect on the points of view and perspectives of others.  It is also essential that they are able to then respond appropriately to the thoughts or feelings of others.  Empathy is of course not just required of learners but from every member of the school community.  Our aspiration therefore is that all members of our international school should demonstrate cognitive empathetic awareness for the many different cultures that form any international community.


If however individuals do not demonstrate cognitive empathy then they are unlikely to understand and embrace the various cultures around them and within their community.  This approach would clearly not be conducive to international mindedness or Great Learning.


An old saying in education relates in a manner to empathy and is critical to the success of any school 'If students don't know how much you care then they don't care how much you know'

Roots of empathy book

Roots of empathy book

Children's impressions

Children's impressions

"striving for EXCELLENCE by ENGAGING minds, EXCITING learners, acting ETHICALLY and showing EMPATHY"

© 2014 by Ian Piper and Adam Sawyer.  All rights reserved.

Proudly created with the staff of Danube International School Vienna and with feedback from the international school community

Josef-Galle Gasse 2, 1020, Vienna, Austria

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Our goal in publishing our GL model is to influence the discussion regarding what is a good school to the core idea of learning.  We give permission for individuals and educational institutions to use the information found on this website for non-commerical research and educational use only, provided that the source is and authors are clearly cited.  We do not give permission for the ideas and content created on this website to be used for commercial purposes.