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The Story and Song Centered Pedagogy

The approach to teaching Empathy is unprecedented. Informed by research, the Story & Song Centered Pedagogy uses storytelling, songs and reflective inquiry to enhance an audience’s ability to empathize with self and others.

“These presentations engage students at a higher level than your average presentations. It brings to the table something that unites us all: Music!”

-George Bishop, Social Studies teacher

Why stories?

Our brains construct meaning by means of stories. Stories serve as bridges into other people’s lives. They are a safe way to experience what others have experienced and good triggers for reflection. Stories are also an effective way to give a voice to the voiceless and the misunderstood.


Why songs?

Music is a language on its own. It has the capacity to convey emotions like no other communication tool. When paired with lyrics and when used within the context of storytelling, it amplifies one’s emotional experience and allows for introspection.


Why reflective inquiry?

The quality of our questions determines the quality of our thinking. Research has shown that one’s ability for perspective taking is a strong indicator of one’s ability to empathize. When partaking in an experience whether as an actor or as a witness, the more one can suspend judgment and reflect on possible explanations, the more likely one is to feel compassion and to display a helping behavior. Our reflective inquiry activities follow the following framework:

  1. Questions leading to self-awareness
    What does the story (song), and my reaction to it teach me about myself?
  1. Questions leading to peer-awareness
    What does the story or song teach me about the character and people like him/her?
  1. Questions leading towards taking action
    In what concrete ways will this story transform/change the way I interact with the world (community)?

These questions ensure that participants revisit their biases and past associations. It causes them to process each story as a unique occurrence which should lead to authentic responses.

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