Why concentrating on our children’s emotional intelligence is important for their education
Traditionally, educators have focussed on the provision of sound academia in education delivering programmes to students that will raise academic standards in schools. The three “r’s” in the classroom “reading, writing and arithmetic” have been seen as fundamental to a child’s success in future life and the cornerstone of successful outcomes in education. Essentially though whilst these clearly play an important part in education, how much should these pure academic outcomes be placed ahead of the suggestion that emotional intelligence underpins the whole process and that much more emphasis should be placed on building up the emotional and psychological muscle in our children to lay the foundation stones in terms of secure, stable emotional platforms first and foremost on which to build both academic and vocational skill sets as part of the educational remit. Essentially, is education really about teaching the three r’s and furnishing the academic mind or nurturing a holistic approach that embraces self-awareness, collective responsibility, emotional intelligence and from that a wider forum for learning. And is this the place of the education system or does this responsibility lie elsewhere?
Such a question was recently asked of the education minister, Michael Gove, at the Festival of Education at Wellington College when he was questioned as to how important he saw social and emotional issues in education. He replied that indeed he did see these issues as very important but essentially education was about academia? Do you think he was right? Is there indeed a right or a wrong? Is there a black or a white answer?
Education will always be a subjective issue. What is important to one person will also hold a different priority to someone else but as social emotional creatures it cannot be denied that children need to be brought up with a degree of emotional intelligence to foster an understanding of the world in which they live so that they learn mutual co-operation, focus and determination from an early age that benefits not only themselves but also those around them in their communities. Those that attain a higher level of emotional intelligence will fare better than those that don’t. Those that can develop and begin to understand their emotional capacity will be able to better utilize their skill sets, and part of that includes the ability to manipulate their ability to learn and also develop their love and lust for learning. Those that are able to work to their strengths will be able to extrapolate at an earlier age intrinsic key elements that will help them get on in life. They will be able to utilize their strengths to bring on their weaknesses and so be less hindered and held back. They will learn quickly how to tap into their resources to maximise on their potential and in doing so open up the world of possibilities. They will grow in confidence and develop self-esteem. Essentially and critically they will be happier to take risks, calculated risks as well as ask the right questions and critically evaluate the world in which they live which essentially is the precursor for successful academia. All in they will be all rounded, healthy, happy, contented, functioning children that will grow into contributing members of society.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence includes the following and is vital in nurturing an all rounded child:
1. Promoting self-awareness. This helps the child learn to know their own strengths and weaknesses, values and standards, what is important to them. It helps them recognize what drives them; what their goals and aims are.
2. Self-Regulation. This involves helping them challenge unhelpful principals and disruptive emotions and being flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances.
3. Social Connections – developing, maintaining and managing successful relationships
4. Being Empathetic – developing the capacity to consider other people’s perspectives and feelings
5. Motivation – being driven to achieve a set of objectives through a focused determination
If a young adult is equipped with this skill set they have a mind-set that will help them navigate life with motivation and zeal to truly to succeed. Everything else will come from that including a love for learning out of which academia will surely flow.
What Choice Will you Make?
In the ideal world educationalists and parents therefore need to be acutely aware of the need to take up the gauntlet to make provision for the social and emotional development of children. In the classroom context specialists need to be drafted in to deliver age appropriate, key skill sets that are dynamic, interactive and inclusive so that the next generation of children will thrive emotionally and psychologically and be given every change to develop from ‘acorns into healthy mature oak trees’ that will stand tall and contribute to society with integrity and purpose. In the real world though, each and everyone of us, can chose to make a difference and nurture our own emotional child. Whether we make that choice is down to each of us . The question is – what choice will you make?