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The surprising new class an elite British school is adding to its curriculum


It’s really about educating the human heart.

Eton College, the British independent school that has taught generations of royals and 19 British prime ministers, is adding a new lesson to its curriculum — good old-fashioned manners. It’s a welcome move that will hopefully inspire similar courses in other educational establishments.

The boarding school, which costs about $50,000 to attend each year, wants to focus on helping students with empathy and etiquette, and the classes will likely include the importance of thank-you letters and acts of kindness. This character education program comes after staff at the school realized that a most important trait — gratitude — is not being highlighted by the school.

“There’s a proven connection, across numerous different cultures, between being grateful and happiness. Largely, it’s about awareness” Jonnie Noakes, an English teacher and Eton’s head of teaching and learning, explains to TES. Students will be encouraged to write little thank-you notes for a kind gesture they’ve received in the day — even if it’s just someone who’s taken the time to stop and chat. By acknowledging kindness they appreciate the act and the other person feels valued.

The school is also adding crucial lessons in empathy to help students understand and appreciate others and their points of view. As Noakes points out: “Most human beings have empathy in abundance – it just needs to be encouraged,” adding “It’s educating the human heart – it matters.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Read more: 14 Famous people whose lives were shaped by their Catholic education

Read more: Children have a right to a Christian education, says pope

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