Empathy through Education

Synopsis: Social and Emotional Learning is not fluff; it is an important goal in education.


The article highlights the importance of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) as an important tool of education. India’s recent National Education Policy also highlights its importance in children’s development.

What is SEL?

It forms the foundation of human development, for building healthy relationships, academic learning, manages emotions and much more things more effectively. The following are the key elements of SEL:

Empathy: It is the ability to understand another person’s emotions. It is also the awareness of why they might be feeling those emotions.

Theory of mind: It is the ability to understand others’ intentions, knowledge and beliefs and recognize that those might be different from your own.

Neurobiologically different regions of the brain such as the prefrontal and frontal cortices and others are involved in the cognitive mechanisms of SEL. Thus, it is vital to consider that the learning process is a social as well as an emotional experience.

How pandemic bought challenges for SEL?

The pandemic has brought numerous challenges for SEL as school closures reduced opportunities for students to deepen social relationships and learn in shared physical spaces.

What practices can we adopt?

Individuals from underprivileged backgrounds have faced immense learning losses during the pandemic. We need to prioritize “inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” We can start with the following strategies:

Practices: SEL practices should be based on students’ socioeconomic backgrounds.

Strategies: SEL strategies of caretakers and educators must align with one another.

Scientific use: Long-term success requires SEL to be based on scientific evidence.

As can be seen that such comprehensive learning involves all the stakeholders, including parents and teachers. This onus lies on all of us to bring the changes.

Source: This post is based on the article “Empathy through Education” published in The Hindu on 20th September 2021.

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