The Guardian is reporting that the new headmaster of Eton College wants to develop emotional intelligence in his pupils and provide them with a “holistic, rounded” education.
Simon Henderson, who took over the headship of the top public school at the beginning of this term, is attempting to signal a change of tone at Eton – a byword for privilege, power and considerable wealth.
“The whole point of school is to prepare young people for happiness and success in their personal lives and working lives,” Henderson told the Guardian.
“There’s more awareness of emotional intelligence and of mental health, of young people building confidence and resilience to manage themselves in a fast-changing, challenging environment,” he said.
The move is the latest attempt by private schools to reduce some of the stresses pupils can find themselves in in highly competitive environments. Cheltenham Ladies’ College announced in the summer that it was bringing in meditation and curbing homework demands.
Henderson said that while excellent academic standards were important, he wanted Eton College – which has educated 19 British prime ministers, including the present incumbent, as well as countless members of the establishment over generations – to be innovative, forward thinking, outward looking and open.
“Any self-respecting institution should be reflecting from time to time on things it does,” he said. “The best traditions should stand up to modern scrutiny. This is about incremental change…”
There’s a lot more ground covered in the full article and interview with Simon Henderson, but what do you make of the headline claim to be putting the school’s emphasis on emotional development?
Does it sound like a meaningful change in direction and, if so, what might be the implications for the state sector if the independent sector pioneers this approach?
Please give us your feedback and reactions in the comments or via Twitter…
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