Art-based Solutions to Activate Empathy in Schools

Art-based Solutions to Activate Empathy in Schools

Hanoi, VietnamHanoi, Vietnam
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The first & only social enterprise in VN with experts in Arts for Human Development, providing solutions that successfully address the most abstract problems.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

As a result of history and tradition, schools in Vietnam follow the “banking model” of education, in which students are described as empty, passive containers which educators, the active subjects, deposit knowledge into. Students suffer and adapt to a suffocating curriculum, a habit of robotically learning by repetition unconsidered facts from textbooks to pass many exams, and an atmosphere that focuses on encouraging competition among students. This model not only prevents students from pursuing and enjoying knowledge in a proper manner, but also fails to enable them to understand themselves, to be expressive, to relate to their community, and to link the knowledge they have been taught to the real life, which are all very essential to developing empathy.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

In order to activate empathy teaching in schools, we will train the teachers to adopt our art-based methods. Our art-based methods have been proven to be effective in supporting individual development in many ways, including teaching empathy. We use exercises from various types of art (devised theatre, contemporary dance, painting, etc.) as materials to produce interactive activities that stimulate participants’ creativity, imagination and abilities to communicate with the others. Being expressive and empathetic will naturally emerge as a requirement for the participants to complete the activities (please watch the attached video). We will hold a 6-month program to train teachers to integrate our methods into their pedagogy, thus creating a schooling environment that nourishes empathy. Teachers will directly experience the activities, and together will discuss, develop the theoretical core and possible usages of our art-based methods so that they can fit in the schooling environment.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Raising empathy in a community: KOTO Vietnam is a project that aims to equip professional skills in hospitality for street children in Vietnam. Since the children come from very different backgrounds and have very diverse perspectives, they may not communicate with each other well. The class 17 happened to be the worst case, in which children even bore grudge against each other. KOTO invited Life Art to conduct a program to help solve the problem. Through the art-based, interactive and playful activities, the children became more open to share their personal histories and difficulties to communicate with the class, thus gradually making them more willing to explore, understand and accept others. After the workshop, the class 17 became a close-knit community, where all could relate to each other in a natural, easy manner. Training teachers to adopt Life Art’s methods in school: TOT was a 6-month project that created an opportunity for teachers to understand Life Art’s methods and practice integrating Life Art’s methods into their own teaching methods. The participants experienced and discussed the usage and effectiveness of our methods, as well as learnt about Paulo Freire’s theories – the foundation of our methods. At the end of the project, a group of participants initiated a project that helped 12 sub-urban children be more expressive and empathetic. A participant, who is the dean of the Critical Thinking department at the Foreign Language University, also selectively incorporated some of our methods into the university’s curriculum.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

In Vietnam, there are many other centers that also provide communication skills, but they differentiate from us in two main points. First, those centers only focus on adults, who are claimed to need soft skills to succeed in their jobs, while we don't limit our methods to any particular age. Second, they follow the traditional theory-based, teacher-led method of teaching to inform participants the steps to achieve a particular skill, while we focus on the experiencing process and give room for participants to interpret and build their own lessons. Those centers hardly pose any challenge to our project, since their target is not children or school. We actually hope that after observing the effectiveness of our methods, those centers can adopt and help popularize our methods.
About You
Life Art Vietnam
About You
First Name

Y Ly

Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Life Art Vietnam

Organization Country

, HI, Hanoi

Country where this project is creating social impact

, HI, Hanoi

Your role in Education

Counselor, Social Worker, Teacher.

The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with

Public (tuition-free)

How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

How long has your solution been in operation?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Now that you have thought out your entry, help us pitch it.
Define your company, program, service, or product in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]

The first & only social enterprise in VN with experts in Arts for Human Development, successfully addressing the most abstract problems.

Identify what is innovative about your solution in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]

Create an artistic, relaxing, playful environment in which individuals can develop various abstract abilities, including empathy.

Social Impact
What has been the impact of your solution to date?

3-year impacts assessment:
1. Intensive training of trainers in Facilitating Development through Arts (50 sessions, 150 hrs): 60 participants, 18 100% scholarships. Trainees from those courses have applied what they learnt in their workplace, schools, and projects.
2. Public Workshops: 30 workshops, 450 participants - adults and children. We create a safe setting for individuals to develop creativity and critical thinking - to experiment themselves. We also provide 45 scholarships for selected scholars from difficult circumstances.
4. Me project: A project with The Will to Live Center, working with 25 disabled young people. We organized art-based activities to support their self-worth pursuit, and sharing/learning process. The project attracted considerable attention from the media.
5. Creating Art For Development Net-Work: 40 practical sharing sessions with 40 topics, 70 regular participants.
6. Training on Radical Pedagogy for 50 school head-masters in Hanoi.

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

After the 6-month program, there will be 20 teachers who can professionally adopt our methods and around 800 students who directly benefit from their teachers' innovation in teaching method. After 1 year, we expect that 200 teachers will understand and be able to integrate our methods into their teaching, and 8000 students will start to benefit from our methods. We expect that needs will arise, and we will organize more similar programs upon requests. Also, this project will capture the media's interest, thus making art-based methods more familiar to the majority of people and changing their traditional "banking model" perspective on education. Only when many people are aware of the necessity and effectiveness of our methods, a real education reform can take place in a large scale.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

First, our art-based method seems very easy to adopt, so there's a high chance that many other teachers will try to copy without understanding the theoretical core, thus creating failed results and wrong interpretation of our method. However, in Vietnam, since our facilitators are all professionally trained in this field, each of our workshop's effectiveness will be ensured. People will soon realize the difference in term of effectiveness and seek to understand our method's core.
Second, our method is unfamiliar to most people, so it takes time for both teachers and education administrators to accept our method. Again, we hope that the method's testified effectiveness in addressing the most abstract problems (raising empathy, for example) will make people understand and follow the method.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

Train 20 teachers to adopt the art-based methods in schools.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Organize a 6-month program to provide teachers the opportunity to explore, understand and practice our art-based methods.

Task 2

Support participants in researching and finding new art-based methods that are proper to schooling environment.

Task 3

Gain support from media, organizations and government.

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Make the participants become the trainers, so that the art-based methods will be more and more popular in schools.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Participants monthly report the advantages and difficulties when adopting art-based methods in schools.

Task 2

Prepare participants for training their colleagues to adopt our methods. Gain support from media, organizations and government.

Task 3

Monitor participants' training programs and support them to identify and solve difficulties.

Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]

I studied Psychology, Sociology and Economics in India. I then came to know a project that used media and theatre for development, which interested me a lot because I always wanted to do something artistic and creative, while still doing work related to Psychology. I decided to apply and won a scholarship to go to University of Winchester to study Media and Theatre as Development. When I came back to Vietnam, I realized that this method for development was very effective; it could be applied to support people to develop their most abstract abilities, regardless of their ages, backgrounds or social conditions. Usually when people are playing and being creative, they are more comfortable to see themselves, approach their own problems and relate to the others. I decided that I would use this method to help improve Vietnam's education system - to create a learning space that is more empathetic, creative and encouraging. That is the reason why I founded Life Art.

Tell us about your partnerships

The Department of Education and Training of Hai Ba Trung district will be an important partner in our project, since in the past we successfully provided several training programs for teachers from schools in Hai Ba Trung district. We also have contacts of many principals and teachers from kindergartens and primary schools in Hanoi.
Our partners will have the responsibility to ensure the participants' commitment during the program and support them to adopt our methods afterwards. They are also encouraged to give us feedback and join in researching new art-based learning methods.

What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section? [75 words]

For the 6-month program, our facilitators all have firm foundation of knowledge and years of experience in art-based learning facilitation skills. Our CEO is holding a Master degree in Media and Theatre as Development from Winchester University. One of our facilitators has been a professional Improvisation Theatre actor for 10 years, and another facilitator is a professional soft skill trainer for children.
We also have a large and committed team of volunteers to ensure that our project will never face a deficit of workforce.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

We need a tailor-made marketing plan to popularize the art-based learning methods. Because our method requires the participants to experience to really understand the effectiveness, the usual marketing plan does not work well.