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Denmark is listed as the happiest country in the world. What’s their secret? Part of it begins with cake – or rather, using cake to teach empathy, which is a learned skill that unfortunately tends to be neglected in education in the U.S. Danish schools regard empathy as important as math and literature, and empathy is included in curriculums all the way through high school. An important part of empathy programs is “Klassen Time” or “the Class’ Hour,” where students spend time as a group talking about problems they are experiencing – anything from issues between two students, or problems outside of school. If there aren’t any issues, students simply relax together. At the end of Klassen Time, students also eat cake together, which they take turns baking each week. Spending time learning to understand their peers’ feelings every week helps instill empathy in Danish students. How does this impact them later in life? A study conducted by Duke and Penn State determined that those with more empathy were “more likely to graduate from high school and have full-time jobs.” We can definitely take a page, and perhaps some cake, from Denmark.
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