Should emotional intelligence be taught in schools?
Emotional intelligence lessons already manifest in schools all over the world.
They are called "getting through the school day":
- How can I look like I care about this class when I am bored stiff out of my mind?
- How can I pass this class and do well when the teacher seems to hate me?
- How can I survive lunch hour? Who can I sit with and not be told to leave?
- How can I survive the whole school day without being kicked or teased or have someone deliberately knock my books from my hands?
- How can I get more attention at school today?
- How can I stay invisible at school today?
- How can I concentrate and learn when things are so messed up at home?
- How can I do this team project with these people who don't like me or whom I can't stand?
Where schools can help is to have more project-based learning that requires cooperation and collaboration between diverse groups of personalities and backgrounds. Teach conflict resolution, delegation, perspective taking, identifying talents/strengths, and constructive criticism through these projects, by making a structured session specific to discussing what happened as the project is getting done - not just about the project itself.
This is how schools can teach children how the real world works out there when people have to work together - people who may not agree with each other or even like each other but need to be effective to accomplish a goal.
Yes. Schools are using more and more cooperative methods of learning, such as group work. Learning to work in a group - to negotiate, to delegate, to be tactful - is relevant to many "real world" work scenarios, where young people are likely to be placed on a team of some kind.
However, just putting kids in groups is not enough. Teachers must give kids guidance, skills, and tools. Most classes cannot be allowed to form their own groups: if allowed, the smart kids and slow kids will cluster separately, or form groups based on friendship. Teachers must act like supervisors hiring teams, and assign groups in a way that distributes the class's human assets: not every "smart" kid is a natural leader, etc.
Then, make groups accountable. They must submit a list of delegated jobs before working, then complete evaluations after the project to determine if everyone followed through on their commitments. Recognize natural leaders and rotate them among different groups. Give lower grades for students who receive justifiably poor peer evaluations, and counsel them on working better with the next group.
This sounds like a lot of work for the teacher, but it pays off in group projects that run smoothly and teach kids about workplace cooperation.
School should go after enhancing all the abilities of students. Not the higher-order thinking skills, but also the social-emotional ones.
Edutopia is doing great job on this: http://www.edutopia.org/richard-davidson-sel-brain-video
This is just one out of many resources shared.
I also think that most of today's schools are failing because they still regard students-as-brains not students-as-persons !
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