Teaching Empathy with Brecht as Prompter
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Original versionAmerican International Journal of Social Studies. 2018, 7 (2), 20-28. 10.30845/aijss.v7n2p3
Empathy is a contested concept, understood in different ways. It is pertinent to explore and teach empathy today. Our ability as humans to make informed choices guided from heart and head in balance, needs to be addressed along with profound ethical issues. Re-newer of 20th century theatre Bertolt Brecht is known for his scepticism of empathy. He encouraged audiences and actors to be rational rather than to empathise. In this article, I propose however that the theatre of Brecht, in arts education, offers useful insight into empathy as a competence engaging feeling and intellect likewise. I argue that it is possible to discover fresh aspects of empathy and acquire empathetic skills through staging Brecht’s plays. The teaching practice is demonstrated with case examples from the BA Program in Drama and Theatre at The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway.