October 2015

Emotional Intelligence: Hidden, but Powerful

Stand-first: Emotional intelligence is swiftly becoming more accepted in the world we live in today as a skill necessary for success. However, it is only taught in a few classrooms around the world.

By: Tyler Bunton
Projects Abroad Volunteer
Connecticut - Unites States

In a small room in the United States a group of children is learning. Not about math or vocabulary, but emotions. They use something called a “Mood Meter,” a color-coded method designed by RULER to help students chart their emotions. It is a square subdivided into four different smaller squares: red, yellow, green, and blue. Students will chart their feelings on the scale, from unpleasant to pleasant, and from low to high energy. The square in which the point falls gives the students a way to describe their emotions. Putting words to their feelings is a skill that can develop to be very useful later in life. When a student is angry, or sad, or jealous, they are taught to describe how they feel and learn how to deal with their emotions in a constructive way.

These competencies across these four main areas is essential for success in life and the workplace.
Photo: Ximena Noya

This is taking place in the Child Care Learning Center (CLC,) located in Stamford, Connecticut. It is one ofthe few education programs in the world focusing on providing emotional training for young children. This kind of education is called Social-Emotional Learning (SEL.) SEL training is far from a popular area of education. Some teachers believe it is a waste of time. They prefer to focus on things like reading skills and math. These skills are useful, but focusing solely on them neglects the importance of interpersonal skills. How we interact with each other is just as, if not more important than addition and subtraction.

Part of the reason schools neglect SEL is because it is a fairly new field. It was only in 1995 that David Goleman published his novel Emotional Intelligence, which brought to light how things like empathy and social skills can lead to success.

Part of the reason schools neglect SEL is because it is a fairly new field. It was only in 1995 that David Goleman published his novel Emotional Intelligence, which brought to light how things like empathy and social skills can lead to success. Since then, it is mostly in the United States where programs like that of the CLC have arisen. Also, the CLC is a pre-school program. It is still rarer to find emotional intelligence training in elementary and primary public education. Sadly, this makes the educational landscape machine-like and cold. Analytical learning usually overshadows the understanding of our own emotions that make us human. Being intact with our own emotions as well as others can undoubtedly make us better people. In environments in which bullying, suicide, and violence remain prevalent, SEL seems to provide a solution.

This isn’t all baseless speculation. There is a lot of concrete evidence suggesting that emotional education can make us more successful. In her article on emotional intelligence in learning, Jennifer Kahn cites two 2011 studies. The findings were eye-opening: “K-12 students who received social-emotional instruction scored an average of 11 percentile points higher on standardized achievement tests. A similar study found a nearly 20 percent decrease in violent or delinquent behavior.” This proves that emotional intelligence is something that can be taught, just like Math, English, or Social Studies. It deserves a seat in the classroom, but why isn’t it getting one?

Education is not just about pure rationality, but about emotions, feelings, and thus…our totality as human beings.”

IQ alone is not enough; EQ also matters.
Photo: Ximena Noya

While SEL awareness is on the rise globally, it remains largely unknown in poorer countries. And when they are aware, it is usually hard for them to get extra funding for it. Thus, they continue to teach basic intelligence, unable to tap into a resource that could help them succeed. However, in Bolivia, awareness of the importance of emotional intelligence and more progressive forms of education appears to be on the rise. Bolivian sociologist Saavedra critiqued his country’s reluctance to take an educational risk in a May 2010 interview. “Education is not just about pure rationality, but about motions, feelings, and thus…our totality as human beings.”

Hopefully, change will come and countries around the world will realize the importance of teaching emotional intelligence. While it might not be as impressive or as tangible as the other form of intelligence, its benefits are long lasting. Though the programs may require additional funding, they can help students in immeasurable ways. Things like the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) strive to make this a reality. CASEL is an organization trying to make SEL something accessible in classrooms everywhere. In July of 2015 they partnered with Atlanta Public Schools to launch a SEL initiative. Things like this provide hope for the rest of the world. Until then, small programs like the CLC will try their best to make a difference. Their cause is an important one.

“I think that being engaged with their emotions will make them (the students) better friends, better husbands, wives, better human beings.” says CLC teacher Ruth Sanchez. “I think that is just priceless.”

Calendario OCTUBRE 2015

Instituto Cultural Boliviano Alemán – ICBA

> Semana de Cine Europeo
del 5 al 10 de octubre
« Organizada por ICBA, Alianza Francesa y Novecento »

> TANDEM – mesas de conversación
ma. 6, 13,20,27

«¿Quieres mejorar tu nivel de alemán, inglés y español? Vente a las mesas de conversación para encontrar nuevos amigos y practicar el idioma que quieras.»

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