Helping hands: Two boys clean up a classroom with their teachers after floods hit their school. It is this trait – their willingness to help – that reinforces the importance of good values. – File Photo
While schools aim for academic excellence, there is also a need to inculcate in students the values of patience and compassion.
MORAL Education has come a long way in Malaysia. Since Malaysia attained independence, much has been said about the subject.
In fact, recently, Moral Education came under scrutiny where many ‘higher order thinking skills’ (HOTS) questions were posed to students when they sat for their PT3 Moral Education paper. Candidates were not fully prepared for the HOTS questions.
There have been discussions and debates about the purpose of having Moral Education in our curriculum.
Many educationists, have said that Moral Education cannot be taught solely for examination purposes.
Moral Education or otherwise known as Values Education, Character Education, Ethics Education or Civics and Citizenship Education in other developed and developing countries, can be taught in an interesting and thought-provoking manner to develop the mindset of the students. However, are we focusing on just this (mindset) all the time?
Moral Education should also touch on the affective side that the educators seldom focus on. We may not be aware that moral emotions are crucial for one’s development and empathy is one major component.
There are various definitions of empathy. Various theorists and psychologists have suggested different definitions for empathy like Feshbach, who asserted that empathy has both cognitive and affective components.
An expert in Emotion, Nancy Eisenberg viewed empathy “as an affective response that stress from the apprehension or comprehension of another’s emotional state or condition and is similar to what the other person is feeling or would be expected to feel in the given situation”.
Empathy as a component plays an important role in moral development as well as being a motivator for prosocial behaviour. Researchers have stated that people who deeply care for others and experience their empotions, are motivated to help other people.
According to famous theorists and psychologists, it is Hoffman’s theory of empathy that has the most extensive coverage on the development of the topic and care in humans.
He defined empathy as “an affective response more appropriate to another’s situation than one’s own”.