School engagements

Malene Rydahl advocates for the implementation of empathy classes for students in 6th grade in college.

She is very engaged in the project  with the support of the Ministry of National Education, The academy of Paris and The observatory of well-being at School.

Engagements (School engagements)

In my home country, Denmark, we cultivate empathy in schools from the age of 6. We learn emotional intelligence.

“Hell is other people” – Sartre, No Exit, 1943 According to a recent survey, more than half of the French population shares this point of view. This result sheds light on a phenomenon that we unfortunately witness : the brutalization of our relationship with others. Those who have different ways of living, personalities, or life visions, in short, those who are different.

It is in classrooms, amidst recess, in gyms, that it all begins. That’s where we have our first experience of others.

In my home country, Denmark, we cultivate empathy in schools from the age of 6. We learn emotional intelligence. We learn to know ourselves better to understand and accept others. We also learn to trust, to feel legitimate, and therefore, to share our opinions and ideas without fear. We learn to build a society. These are essential skills to create a culture of psychological safety where students feel free to ask questions and dare to answer without fear of error or failure. From the age of five, a child is capable of understanding that others do not think like them, that their worldview may differ from that of some of their peers. In this process, schools have a primary responsibility: to accompany the child’s development, to help them develop listening and understanding abilities. Schools must be capable of instilling empathic faculties in children, enabling them to see, understand, and accept others. To engage usefully in society to build  a collective project that benefits all of us.

Tribune: editorial/school

Schools must not be mistaken about their goals.

In a few years, artificial intelligence and its applications will undoubtedly allow us to achieve all our projects with little effort, quickly, efficiently, and maximizing profits, in complete autonomy. But this will not help us develop solidarity and respectful relationships with others, despite all our differences.

Schools must stimulate emotional intelligence, curiosity, and open-mindedness in students, at least as much as they teach them to handle the Pythagorean theorem. Empathy is essential for human progress. This specific intelligence allows us to see, understand, and accept others and envision their differences as possible versions of ourselves.

Empathy is the tool for living together.

Therefore, I advocate for the creation of “empathy classes” within the French school system. France must embrace the challenges of the 21st century, which are not only technical but also human: cooperation, solidarity, inclusion, kindness, and trust – in oneself, in others, and in the future.

Introduce empathy classes based on psychosocial skills, one hour per week in 6th grade, in all public middle schools in France.


Create training for school librarians to conduct empathy classes during training hours at the documentation center (CDI).


Make empathy and emotional intelligence a priority in French education.




To test compulsory empathy lessons based on psychosocial skills in 6th form in two public secondary schools in Paris during the 2023/2024 school year: Collège Jacques Prévert in the 6th form and Collège Maurice Utrillo in the 18th form (REP plus).

Monitoring and evaluation of the project by the academic researchers on the steering committee of the Observatory of Well-Being at School with Rebecca Shankland and Natascha Dangouloff.

Publication of a book in January 2024 on teaching empathy in schools as a key to the collective success of French society.

Create a debate with decision-makers and political influencers to highlight the benefits of this programme and better explain the need for empathy in schools.

A steering committee of leading talents and experts to give this project the best possible chance of success : Committee members (in alphabetical order)

Isabelle Brun

Principal of Collège Jacques PRÉVERT

Professional coach (coaching for management personnel based on artistic creativity).

Agnès Cornet

School librarian at Collège Jacques PRÉVERT

Clinical psychologist

Natacha Dangouloff

Associated researcher in Education and Training Sciences

Research Group on Disability, Accessibility, Educational, and School Practices - Grhapes, National Institute for Inclusive Education and Research - INSEI, Professional Training and Learning Laboratory - FoAP - CNAM

Fatima Kinani


Paris Academy Regional Education Authority

Malene Rydahl

Well-being and performance consultant

Teacher at Sciences Po Paris

Rebecca Shankland

Professor of Developmental Psychology at Lumière Lyon 2 University

Head of the Well-being Observatory at School, Development, Individual, Process, Disability, Education Research Laboratory.

Steering committee