EDUCATIONAL JOURNEY with EPHAT MUDENDA
EDUCATION is one of the various ways used to positively shape an individual’s well-being as well as that of the society in general. Good behaviour among learners in schools should always be emphasised if the
desired development is to be attained at every level; whether personal, community or national.
Behavioural competence is a social construct that focuses on humanity, intelligence, courage, conscience, autonomy, respect, responsibility, loyalty, humility, assertiveness and perseverance in programmes that are related to socio-economic development.
The education system, at all levels, must place emphasis on this crucial aspect through incorporating important dimensions that are perceived to be helpful in realising a morally-upright society.
Behavioural factors such as the use of non-verbal communication are supposed to be presented in such a way that the knowledge imparted to students actually leads them to change for the better.
Under non-verbal communication, areas of focus may include tone of voice, style of dress, gestures and eye contact, among others. The education system can help inculcate desirable moral principles in the learners through lessons that emphasise these and other non-verbal communication strategies. This would be more effective if it is promoted right from primary school level so that the children – as they grow into adulthood – may fully be aware of and uphold the morals and norms expected of them in the society.
Though some subjects such as English language cover topics regarding verbal communication, for example how to make clear requests, polite commands, asking for or giving permission and advice, and giving a warning, among other areas of interpersonal/ verbal communication, much more can still be done in schools to achieve the much-needed behavioural change.
How to respond effectively to criticism is one area worth exploiting. Learners should always understand that criticism will always be there in all areas of life. What is important is an understanding of how to positively use it for the benefit and improvement of oneself, communities and the nation as a whole.
Expressing feelings in a clear manner falls under the realm of verbal communication. As one learns to do this, certain skills such as precision and assertiveness are enhanced, and these prove to be of real value in one’s career later on in their life.
One other dimension of behavioural competence that should be part of the education system has to do with lessons on how the learner must take positive action in any given situation. For instance, when one senses that a particular situation is ‘negative’ and harmful to their moral well-being, they should be ‘educated enough’ to walk away to a place where they are safe.
Positive action includes an aspect of altruism, whereby learners develop empathy to an extent where they can lend a helping hand to others if necessary. In addition, school authorities will do well to effectively promote extra-curricular activities in which children can take part, such as sport, debate, and drama, among others, with a view to helping learners to avoid activities that could harm society.
The result of a good education in terms of behavioural competence among citizens would, no doubt, be ‘moral maturity’, which Piaget (1965) describes as both a respect for rules and a sense of social justice.
A civilised society in which young people grow into adulthood with a sense of responsibility towards personal, community and national development, is possible through an education that emphasises good behaviour and respect for one another.