Since reading up on the virtues of Emotional Intelligence I’ve wanted to know whether or not schools are making an effort to raise the collective EQ of the kids in the classroom.
EQ can boost a person’s life in many different quarters professionally and personally. EQ in essence is referring to a person’s awareness of their emotions. And since our emotions form a large driving factor in our decision making process it’s of crucial important.
There have been intriguing studies done with kids whose EQ was measured at a young age. One particular study shows that come exam time kids with a high EQ had outperformed the kids with a low EQ in SAT exams: “…the 210 point difference is as large as the average differences between that of economically advantaged versus disadvantaged children and is larger than the difference between children from families with graduate degrees versus children whose parents did not finish high school…”.
The best thing about EQ is that unlike IQ it can be learnt. In some primary schools they are teaching it with measurable success. The article I just linked to reveals how in schools children are taught behavoural values such as “We are gentle, we are kind, we work hard, we look after property, we listen to people, we are honest, we do not hurt anybody.” In truth, and without delving further into the specifics of this particular case I admit to being unsure with this approach as it doesn’t seem to be preaching the values of emotional awareness.
Recently though I read about the ‘Rainbow Kids‘ approach. Here the focus is upon Emotional Literacy – kids are taught how to express how they feel. Starting with simple analogies like feeling ‘sunny’ or ‘cloudy’ they then proceed to up their game so that they can talk about a wider range of emotions they come into contact with. What this approach reveals is that when they become ‘aware’ of how they feel they give themselves more options for resolving conflict. In general schools that pay attention to EQ tend to receive numerous advantages from better exam results to lesser incidents of bullying and truancy.
A simple google search will reveal the multitudes of advantages in teaching kids EQ, but there are critics out there. I’m rather dismayed by the comments of our shadow schools minister Nick Gibb: “This kind of stuff is ghastly. Schools have really got to focus on the core subjects of academic education and teaching children how to learn.”
I’m clearly concerned about voting for the conservatives if it means that this man would become responsible for the running of our schools. In direct response to his statement I would contend that by equipping kids with a higher EQ we enable them to “focus on the core subjects” more easily. That is to say that by looking at ways of improving our kids EQ we therefore set them up better for success. To use an old analogy, we get them sharpening their axes before we ask them to chop down a tree.
Also, if we don’t teach our kids this kind of “non core subject” material in schools such as emotional wellbeing and good behaviour then what happens if the parents don’t either? We’re in effect removing the safety net for our kids’ development. We perpetuate the negative cycle of bad parents raising future bad parents.
What really can I do though? If I vote instead for Labour then I stand a greater chance of exposing my kids to the horror that is Tony Blair’s “faith schools”.