In this essay we will learn about sympathy. After reading this essay you will learn about:- 1. Meaning and Definition of Sympathy 2. Individual Differences in Sympathy 3. Types of Sympathy 4. Role of Sympathy in Education 5. Limitations of Sympathy.
- Essay on the Meaning and Definition of Sympathy
- Essay on the Individual Differences in Sympathy
- Essay on the Types of Sympathy
- Essay on the Role of Sympathy in Education
- Essay on the Limitations of Sympathy
1. Essay on the Meaning and Definition of Sympathy:
Literally speaking, sympathy means feeling with others. It is the tendency of sharing emotions with others. It works so quickly that it may be termed as unconscious tendency. Sympathy is thus feeling as others feel in the absence of logically adequate grounds for feeling in that manner. When a mother sees her son injured, she instantaneously feels hurt. When a child cries in distress, his other companions at once share his feeling.
Gautama saw an old man, a diseased man and a dead person. His mind became perturbed at the sight so much so that he proceeded to make a life-long search for the solution of the three problems old-age, disease and death. Not only is distress and pain shared, pleasure and delight also is shared by companions.
Telepathy is the extreme case of sympathy. But normally, sympathy is aroused at the perception of a situation. In words of Ross, “Our instincts seem to be organised on the afferent side in such a way that they are unlocked by the perception of instinctive behaviour in another.” Mark Antony said, “I shed tears for Caesar”, and the whole mob felt that way.
The entire Indian population was moved with sympathy when Bhagat Singh was sentenced to death. The perception of the situation may be through sight or through sound. Everybody who listened at the radio-commentary at the departure of Nehru, was moved to tears. We have unconscious sympathy with the hero or the heroine in a drama, novel or a picture.
What is called ‘projection’ in literary criticism is a form of sympathy. Indian experts name it. The entire audience feels in the same way as the principal characters in a play are shown to feel. Without his ‘sympathetic induction’, literature has no charm.
Sympathy has its basis, herd instinct in animals. It is found in birds and animals. When one bird flies in fright, all others follow the suit, without knowing the source of danger. This primitive passive sympathy observed in animals is unwitting. The feeling is induced without the animal realising what is happening.
In human beings, perception of the expressive signs of emotions in others is important to arouse sympathy. Drever says, “the tendency to experience the feelings and emotions of others immediately on perceiving the natural expressive signs of these feelings or emotions is sympathy.”
2. Essay on the Individual Differences in Sympathy:
The degree of sympathy aroused varies from person to person:
(i) Some people are highly sensitive to the distress of others, and some are least sensitive.
(ii) Usually persons are sympathetic towards their own friends and kith and kin, and not towards persons who do not ‘matter’ them.
(iii) Distance lessens sympathy and nearness increases it. Out of sight and out of mind is the old dictum. We may not be moved by the distress of hungry people in our own town or village.
(iv) Sympathy depends upon subjective experience. One who has suffered much is moved by the sufferings of others. One who has suffered in a particular way, is moved by another person’s sufferance in a similar situation. One who remained unemployed for some time sympathises with unemployed persons. A teacher who remembers his own school days when he was maltreated by his teacher, sympathises with his own pupils.
3. Essay on the Types of Sympathy:
There are two types of sympathy:
(a) Passive sympathy, and
(b) Active sympathy.
Passive sympathy is again of two types:
(i) sympathy with pleasure and delight, and
(ii) sympathy with pain, fear and distress.
As is explained in the following diagram:
(a) Passive Sympathy:
This occurs at the sight of the expression of an emotion in others. It is a simple feeling, not accompanied by any impulse to help the other person. A person in our neighbourhood dies young. We are shocked. But what can we do? Most of us experience this passive sympathy, whenever we see others in distress or whenever we read such news. Passive sympathy may be aroused at seeing others in distress, fear or pain. It is also aroused when we join others in merriment and laughter.
Passive sympathy has the following educational significance:
(i) If the teacher reads a poem or a piece of literature thus exhibiting the emotions that are aroused, the pupils will also have induction of the same feelings, and thus enjoy the piece of literature.
(ii) If the teacher, the parents and the elders exhibit their indignation towards any immoral behaviour, the youngsters also begin to feel that way. This will help in strengthening good moral behaviour in them.
(iii) Sympathy is easily aroused in a group. Therefore, all appeals should be made to the group. Poetry or literature should be taught to a group, rather than to individuals.
(b) Active Sympathy:
In passive sympathy, there is only sympathetic induction, and no impulse to help the other person. But when a mother sees her child weeping her active sympathy is aroused, and she wants the child to stop weeping. Suppose a beggar appears before us. If we are not moved to help him, our passive sympathy is aroused. If we actually pay him something our active sympathy is aroused.
When Valmiki, the author of Ramayana, was moved by the distress of the female bird, whose male was shot dead by a hunter, his active sympathy was aroused, and he cursed the hunter. When he found Sita in distress, being abandoned by Rama, he brought her to his hermitage.
Active sympathy thus involves the impulse to help, to protect and to console. Every mother (whether in animal kingdom or in human beings) has this strong tendency to help her kid.
Educationally, active sympathy is very useful. It leads to altruistic conduct. If every member of the society, has a strong active sympathy towards persons in distress, much of the distress can be removed. What is lacking in the modern society is active sympathy. People have become self-centred and egoistic.
The rich and the privileged people hardly care for the persons who are over-powered by ignorance, poverty and disease. Some doctors will charge their fee even from the family of the patient who has died in their treatment. School is a miniature society. If it wants to train the pupils for a new social order, it must inculcate the habit of active sympathy.
The teacher and the parents should inculcate among children the right type of altruistic conduct. Social service should be an important co-curricular activity. Pupil should be trained in home-nursing and first aid, and should be given an opportunity to nurse the needy in the village or in any fair.
4. Essay on the Role of Sympathy in Education:
(i) Role of the teacher:
Sympathy has great educational significance. It leads to altruism and true fellow-feeling. This should be inculcated in children from the very start. The teacher can do this directly or indirectly. Indirectly, while teaching literature, he may express his feelings and sentiments through gestures and words, so that the pupils catch the same feelings.
The teachers teach good moral conduct by showing the worthy feelings about good and bad conduct. He can win the hearts of the pupils through sympathy. Again, he should be sympathetic towards the pupils. If he punishes the pupils, he should punish in a manner that the sympathies of other pupils are with him, and not with the culprit.
(ii) Emotional integration:
Sympathy is the best means of emotional integration. In a class, where there are all types of pupils, coming from different strata of society, the teacher can mould them into one pattern by the powerful weapon of sympathy. He should try o bind them together through common feeling of sympathy, raise their feeling from the lower level of individualism to the higher level of altruism.
(iii) Appreciation of Literature:
Sympathy aids in the appreciation of literature. When the entire group reads a tragedy, all are moved by the same feeling. We sympathise with the hero or heroine. In ordinary course also, we sympathise with the hero or heroine, and feel in the manner they feel. This principle is well-explained in Indian literary criticism. As sympathy helps in the appreciation of literature, the teacher should exploit all the situations while teaching, poetry, play, biography, short story, novel or history, so that sympathy is created amongst all equally. Besides appreciation of literature, aesthetic sensibility also can be taught through sympathy.
(iv) Character Formation:
Sympathy is an asset in the emotional development and character formation. One who has strong active sympathy towards others in distress, dedicates himself to the service of such persons. Fellow-feeling and brotherhood are essentials of character development and social development. Love and Ahinsa are two strong foundational principles of character.
Discipline can be maintained in the class, if the sympathies of all the students are with the teacher. If the majority of the pupils is with the teacher, he can easily control the rebellious pupils and thus maintain the discipline. Sympathy will be helpful in establishing rapport with the adolescents, who may, otherwise, disobey the teacher.
(vi) Method of cultivation:
Sympathy can be cultivated in a number of ways. Firstly, example should be set by the teacher. He should himself be sympathetic towards the pupil. Secondly, the pupils must be made to acquire a practical realization that the other fellow has sensitivity similar to one’s own. Thirdly, anger and aggression must be controlled. A child who can control his anger is in a better position to develop his capacity for sympathising with others. Anger and aggression are just the opposite of sympathy.
5. Essay on the Limitations of Sympathy:
Sympathy is harmful when it is abused or exploited for harmful, selfish or destructive purposes. The teacher may arouse the sympathies of the pupils for a child punished, and thus lead a revolt against the headmaster, with whom he does not have good relations.
A communist teacher may exploit the sympathies of the poor, and thus preach communist ideologies. During the period of sympathetic feeling, a person loses his judgment to some extent. It is therefore, that a mob when aroused to fury may turn to destruction.
Some leaders aroused the sympathies of Hindus for the cows, organised agitations and led the angry mobs to destructive actions. A leader-type student may similarly arouse the sympathies of the pupils through any pretex, and lead strikes and revolts against the school authorities.
It is the duty of the school authorities to guard against the abuse of sympathy. With all the limitations of sympathy, it is a very useful weapon to raise the moral and emotional level of the pupils. Sympathy leads to social service and altruism.