Military Teachers & Empathy

Research Paper Title

What are the Perceptions of Teachers in the Military about Empathy.


This dissertation examines the perceptions of soldiers within a military education establishment on the subject of empathy. Perceptions were explored on a range of issues including the meaning of empathy, the advantages and disadvantages of empathic approaches in educational contexts and the specific opportunities and challenges connected with that approach.

This dissertation contains 5 chapters. Following a literature review there is a description and discussion of methods, a presentation of findings and data analyses and conclusions. In the introduction to the dissertation there is a description of the context of military education with consideration of new developments including a particular focus on the recent initiative of „values based leadership‟ and reflections on the connections that this might have for empathic approaches to education. The literature review allowed for an exploration of key ideas and issues concerning empathy and discussions of approaches to education which rely on interpersonal understandings. The methods for the study were generated following a pilot study. The main study emerged from data collected through initial interviews about general understandings of and attitudes towards empathy, classroom-based observations and further interviews which allowed for reflections by participants on their perceptions of empathic approaches. There were nine participants from the same Army Training Regiments (ATR) who were required to implement values based leadership.

Empathy is a highly complex phenomenon, which is perceived to develop over time and with frequency of interaction and which is highly dependent on the teacher and the context of the interaction (Cooper, 2002). As such an exploration of teachers’ views about empathy can be justified. The respondents in my sample felt that empathic approaches are part of positive interactions between students and teachers which allows for improvements in quality learning, engagement and behaviour. However, they feel that the constraints of class size, time, curriculum, policy and management contribute to teachers‟ difficulties in engaging and empathising with the individual or group.


What are the Perceptions of Teachers in the Military about Empathy (Beckett, 2011)


Beckett, M.A. (2011) What are the Perceptions of Teachers in the Military about Empathy. Masters Thesis. The University of York.


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