We are living in an era when violence among school children and in the society as a whole is at an unprecedented level. Domestic violence is on the increase, and our kids are sometimes the direct victims of these acts.
The question that often comes to mind is whether the perpetual violence experienced by man in modern times can be adequately addressed.
The legendary freedom activist, Nelson Mandela, of blessed memory, once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Mandela was referring to an education system that results in happy and healthy children, a more productive society and a better world for everyone. To bring about this desired change is first to realise that, “educating the heart is as important as educating the mind.”
We must not forget that the primary purpose of schooling is educating the whole child (the promotion of social, emotional and academic learning of the child). As it turns out, evidence has shown that when it comes to success in the workplace and life, in general, being bright and having technical skills isn’t just enough. And we all can attest to this fact.
Most educational psychologists with the help of neuroscience believe there is a way out of the frequent cases of violence often experienced in contemporary times only if education providers would be willing to organise our educational curriculum around social and emotional learning (S.E.L), giving recognition to the issues that form the core of human behaviour and existence.
Social intelligence is the ability to get along with others through empathising and caring for them and getting them to cooperate with you. Two primary competencies characterise social intelligence: social awareness (insight) and social skill (behaviour). The introduction of these into the school system will help both the teacher and students to connect with others within the school and beyond.
Emotional intelligence is simply being conscious or intelligent about our emotions. Emotion is considered to be the greatest force in human beings. The fact is that every action whether positive or negative is an array of emotions.
Since all human actions and reactions are triggered by the emotions, it follows therefore that mastering our emotions is basic and imperative to maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships. This is because several studies have confirmed that our ability to build Emotional Intelligence (E.I) skills will enable us to manage our emotions with more calmness and self-awareness.
To realise this, education providers, apart from integrating this discipline in the school curriculum, should teach our children and lead them through experiences that are capable of conditioning their brains to be able to manage their feelings and calm down when they are angry.
This is the whole essence of social and emotional learning. I am convinced that building emotional intelligence competence through social and emotional learning (S.E.L) equips one to be able to combat disruptive behaviours in our schools and violence in our society.
In conclusion, therefore, it should be noted that success in the workplace and life in general is not only about academic knowledge, but also the acquisition of appropriate skills to enable the student to get along with others, manage emotions well, be good team members and able to resolve differences in a non-violent manner.
Let us not, therefore, close our eyes pretending that we are not seeing the effects of negative emotions all around us.
The best gift we can give the Nigerian child is the introduction of Social and Emotional Learning in our school systems, and by doing this, we will be saving our lives.
- Gospel Vikili
University of Ibadan