The Empathy Toy in Quartz' "Toys that help kids become global leaders"

Toys for future global leaders

In the latest holiday gift guide from Quartz, Jenn Choi looks at “Toys that help kids become global leaders” and names the Empathy Toy as one of “six favorites that make solid work out of play for your future global leader.”

Right off the bat, Jenn hits us point-blank with the concern at the back of everyone’s mind as we collectively make strides to fix or reform or disrupt education in the 21st century — “no one really knows how to prepare our children for a workplace that none of us can imagine.” Jenn suggests that before we work with our kids to develop vocational skills like coding, we can give them tools to cultivate the sort of transferable skills that will “help them succeed in the workforce no matter how it turns out.”

Leadership and Executive Functioning

Executive Functioning is not about operating as the head honcho at a high-powered business firm—though both speak to the ability to put plans into action. Executive functions are processes in your brain that deal with managing your thoughts, feelings, and actions in order to accomplish your goals. Kids with strong skills in executive functioning are able to excel in both school and life, working well in teams and rising as leaders.

In this holiday gift guide from qz, Jenn stresses the importance of developing some key transferable skills tied to executive functioning, including self awareness and adaptability; planning, prioritizing, and organizing; forecasting, strategizing, and activating; sharpening working memory; self-regulation; and independent thinking.

Playing without fear of failing

Describing the Empathy Toy as “one of those rare toys that works for everyone—from adults to young children,” Jenn highlights the game’s focus on “using creativity to problem-solve and adjust to change” as important to practice at any age. She goes on to include a quote from the highly influential Pasi Sahlberg, a visiting scholar at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education teaching and researching educational change. In a nod to the power of play, the Finnish author of several books on global educational change, empowering educators, and leadership in schools, shared his thoughts on the Empathy Toy with Jenn after playing the game. “Its beauty is being difficult without killing the fun: ‘It doesn’t put you in a situation where you have to be afraid of failing.’”