Teacher’s Empathy and Resilience: Why it matters in Special Needs Education
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Today, many teachers’ professional identities are threatened due to high workloads, lack of time and violent behaviours. Pressure on scarce resources often becomes problematic and to protect the environments we inhabit requires stalwart strength, resilience and effective empathy. I would argue that today’s educational system fundamentally serves the service economies, which stifles creativity and holds the person to ransom. When we become lost in the quest for survival we become less empathic and our resilience wanes. Therefore, I ask: Why is Teacher’s empathy and resilience important in special needs education? Precisely because education operates in the “transmission of knowledge,” “the inculcation of values,”and the development of “skills or competencies” (Hughes, 2017, P. 1-2) we need to ensure that our teachers are resilient in their wisdom, yet remain empathic to the dilemmas of the “Other”. Unfortunately, the systems that should support teachers are often time poor, and economically and spiritually barren. The pervasive socio-economic environment affects all strata’s of society but none more than those in special needs. In this gemeinschaft, the teacher is more prone to the insidious nature of the political economy. When notions of empathy are utilised for profit it questions our subjectivity and threatens our core identity (Biesta, 2013, P.64). This jeopardises our place in the world, changing our perception of the Other, diminishing interconnectivity and eroding our resilience (Biesta, 2013). The hidden agendas of political, socio-economics conceals the “nationalist narratives as the antithetical shadows of a stable decent society” (Hughes, 2017, P.17). When “…the strong or knowledgeable person proceeds as though other person possessed a strength and knowledge equal to his own, thereby becoming an adviser, judge and instrument of redress” (Comte-Sponville, 2002, P.70) because “inequality of goods can never be absolutely just, for it dooms some to poverty or death, while others accumulate riches upon riches and pleasures to the point of disgust” (Comte-Sponville, 2002, P.68). The economically successful are heralded as demigods who act judge and jury. The empathic and sympathetic are utilised to feed the economy whilst the privileged few orchestrate their knowledge to manipulate the masses through marketing and technological controls (Stiegler, 2014).