Jim Ziolkowski's National Bestseller Walk in Their Shoes: Can One Person Change the World? details his life changing experience. A business major, he had planned to go into a corporate career. However, while backpacking through Nepal in his senior year, he discovered how simple kindness and caring can change people's lives including his own.
He has chosen to do this by funding the building of schools around the world. In the United States, his BuildOn Program helps local communities take action for better schools. In other countries, BuildOn has helped construct schools. Learn more at BuildOn.com
Ziolkowski was lucky in that he was able to travel and see the world through other people's lives. But you don't have to travel to learn to see with empathetic eyes. We can step into another pair of shoes and imagine we are someone else.
Objective: To develop empathy and caring
Grade Level: Preschool to high school
Preparation: Make two cut-out pair of foot tracings, each pair in a different color construction paper. Tape to the floor.
Procedure: Read scenarios like the example below or use selections from a book that show two different view points.
In the upper grades this activity can be integrated into the subject area by selecting two well-know people (scientists, politicians, writers, etc.) who held or hold differing viewpoints. Ask a volunteer to stand on one set of footprints and summarize the point of view and feelings of the first character. Then have the same student stand on footprints and summarize other point of view.
Example: Felice wants to go skating, but her friend Carrie wants to watch her favorite TV show.
Follow Up Discussion Questions:
- Was it possible for you to come up good reasons to support both view points?
- How do people develop different viewpoints?
- What might you do if you meet someone who disagrees with your viewpoint?
Collect shoes representing different types of people and have students take the viewpoint of the person they think might wear these shoes.
Why is it important to think like someone different from ourselves?
We welcome your thoughts and comments.