"The process, called empathy, is not bad training for someone who goes into politics (or any other calling)," wrote President Reagan in his autobiography, cited by Brian Micklethwait of Brian's Education Blog, recalling the high school English teacher who got him interested in acting:
Another newcomer in Dixon that year was a new English teacher, B. J. Frazer, a small man with spectacles almost as thick as mine who taught me things about acting that stayed with me for the rest of my life.
Our English teachers until then had graded student essays solely for spelling and grammar, without any consideration for their content. B. J. Frazer announced he was going to base his grades in part on the originality of our essays. That prodded me to be imaginative with my essays; before long he was asking me to read some of my essays to the class, and when I started getting a few laughs, I began writing them with the intention of entertaining the class. I got more laughs and realized I enjoyed it as much as I had those readings at church. For a teenager still carrying around some old feelings of insecurity, the reaction of my classmates was more music to my ears.
In fact, for a high school English teacher in the middle of rural Illinois, he was amazingly astute about the theater and gave a lot of thought to what acting was all about. He wouldn't order you to memorize your lines and say: "Read it this way . . ." Instead, he'd teach us that it was important to analyze our characters and think like them in ways that helped us be that person while we were on stage.
By developing a knack for putting yourself in someone else's shoes, it helps you relate better to others and perhaps understand why they think as they do, even though they come from a background much different from yours.
How lame Bubba's facile "I feel your pain" sounds by comparison.
[via Michelle Malkin]