How schools can train students to be empathetic and selfless

Mr. Victor Ochieng', Writer and Author.

Dr. Murage Muthui, the level-headed Chief Principal of Njoro Boys High School, Nakuru County, cordially invited me to address Form One students and their parents during the auspicious Induction and Orientation Day, recently.

Before I edged to the podium to deliver the pep talk, some teachers in the school were given chances to share what transpires in their departments.

The teacher-counselor in charge of Guidance and Counselling in the school apprised the Form One parents about valuable programs in the school that cater for the psycho-social side of learners.

The preceptor explained passionately how the school is committed to mentoring boys to become future men of manners.

On top of that, she shared something else that inspired me to pen this piece for the nation to devour and savor.

It revolves around things the school does to impart values of empathy and altruism to learners.

In Njoro School, there is what they call Benevolence Day- a day of showing love to the less privileged.

The Chaplaincy and Guidance and Counselling Departments confer with the administration to settle on one Sunday per term, where all the fraternity members are mobilized to show kindness and compassion towards needy students in the school.

On that glad day – all and sundry express their love and largesse towards the less-privileged, either in cash or in kind.

While we were there, as friends of goodwill, we were also looped into this benevolent program.

Akin to what happens in churches, ushers went round, and those who were touched by the plight of poor students gave generously without demur.

In the sacred scriptures, Jesus of Nazareth said there will always be poor people in our midst.

Elsewhere, when he saw multitudes in His preaching expeditions, He was moved by compassion for them.

In addition, alumni being brought on board in schools to help learners who hail from humble backgrounds cannot be locked out of this discourse.

Not only at Njoro School but also in plenty of places, we have witnessed alumni pulling resources together to act as beacons of light and hope to students experiencing financial hardships.

Philanthropic old students have defrayed the fees of students with chilling challenges.

In the whole scheme of things, when needy students are propped up by people whose breads are well-battered, this plants in their mortal minds the pleasant thoughts of giving back in the future when they become professionals with the means to survive and thrive.

I loved what I saw in Njoro School.

I felt that apart from taking care of needy students in the school, the generous gesture also taught the entire student body how to be empathetic and generous.

By extension, these two values are part and parcel of Emotional Intelligence; the provenance of this soft skill is attributed to the recognized American author, Dr. Daniel Goleman.

In his book, ‘Emotional Intelligence,’ he came up with five crucial areas worth mentioning in this unique space: Self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social intelligence.

Again, in a book titled ‘Social Intelligence,’ whose oeuvre makes it look like a continuation of the one mentioned above, he talked of Social Awareness and Social Facility.

The former focuses on four areas: Primal empathy, attunement, empathic accuracy and social cognition, while the latter puts a premium on synchrony, self-presentation, influence and concern.

Over and above, empathy and altruism are very important when it comes to human engineering.

We must all strive to impart these values to children when they are still young and innocent for them to know how to live with others in the society after school.

Charles Darwin, the proponent of Evolution Theory, proposed that empathy – the prelude to compassionate action, has been a wonderful aid in nature’s kit to survival.

He posited that empathy lubricates sociability, which is of the essence because human beings are social animals par excellence.

Somehow, the sociability of human beings has been the primary survival strategy.

Empathy can become strong to the extent that we can choose to focus on someone and, in turn, form an emotional loop.

The writer rolls out talks and training programs in schools. Contact: vochieng.90@gvochieng.90

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Mr. Ochieng' is an editor, orator and author. His contact:


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