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The effects of empathy on support for Christmas music performance in public schools

Mitchell R. Davis (Department of Creative and Performing Arts, Northwestern State University, Natchitoches, Louisiana, USA)

Journal for Multicultural Education

ISSN: 2053-535X

Article publication date: 1 April 2021

Issue publication date: 9 August 2021




Despite an ever-diversifying student population, it is still commonplace for US public schools to present Christmas concerts. These concerts can force minority students to choose between their own religious convictions and school participation. For some students, participation in public-school Christmas concerts can damage their personal identity and assimilate them into ways of being that are not their own. This study aims to test a method for teaching preservice teachers to empathize with minority students.


Using the framework of action research, the study followed a one-group pretest-posttest design. Participants (N = 19), all of whom identified as some kind of Christian, were asked to perform a concert featuring Satanic Worship prayers and a children’s Christmas song. This intervention was meant to induce empathy for religious minority students who feel uncomfortable performing Christmas songs because they are antithetical to their own faiths. Participants’ perceptions of public-school Christmas music performance was measured before and after the intervention.


The intervention effectively increased empathy for minority students. As a result, participants expressed altered teaching philosophies that were inclusive of religious minority perspectives.


This study demonstrates the effectiveness of empathy-fostering interventions as tools for teaching teachers to work with diverse student populations. The intervention tested in this study is of the researcher’s original design.



Davis, M.R. (2021), "The effects of empathy on support for Christmas music performance in public schools", Journal for Multicultural Education, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 117-128.



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