Emotional Intelligence


Our emotions drive all actions we perform, yet how many of us take time out of our daily lives to understand what emotions govern us most of the time and if this particular emotion is something we like. Are there better alternatives that can be adopted to improve our wellbeing?

Most adults can't articulate their emotions clearly. The sad reality is no one has shown or taught you how to perceive, understand, manage and use your emotions to your advantage. Today's society is full of emotionally illiterate individuals who lack the necessary education, and this stems right from the education system.

In Discipline, we discussed passive learning, that's probably how most of our emotional education came about, but this type of learning is no longer sufficient.

For example, the UK fell behind in STEM subjects compared to other top countries in the PISA table. Now STEM is mandatory, and this has been further emphasised through the introduction of the EBacc, which comes with a financial incentive so that more schools encourage students to take part. In contrast, today's society suffers from wellbeing issues, particularly mental health, and the number is rising. To tackle these issues, the education system will need to introduce Emotional literacy as part of the learning structure for future generations, but what can be done today to lay that foundation?

Teacher

The current education system focuses on the teacher ability to transfer information to the classroom, and the objectives of each classroom session differ from subject to subject.

A common factor across all classrooms and any learning environment are how motivated are students to learning, and the teachers' emotional state can impact this. How is this possible? Teaching can be very stressful, which can be seen with the high turnover of teachers. The first step is to give emotional intelligence workshops to teachers.

Teachers need to accurately assess their emotions and students to choose the appropriate learning method/activity to engage students.

Understanding one's emotion takes practice, practice in the form of note-taking. This involves writing down events that occur in the classroom that disrupts learning, making a list of the emotions exhibited during such event both from the teachers and students perspective, such as facial expression, body posture and tone of voice.

If such exercises are carried out regularly, this will give teachers a better understanding of areas they need to focus on to allow a continuous learning flow. And will become more intuitive.

The data collected from such activity can be shared amongst teachers, helping them better understand students that tend to disrupt the flow of learning.

Flow

Teachers have now developed a richer vocabulary when articulating their emotions due to the exercise. The benefit is that they become better educators and now possess the tools and skillset to incorporate emotional intelligence objectives into their different subjects.

One of the key features that make the gaming industry so successful in creating a sense of flow for players by careful gamification design, which showcases progress, challenge and reward. This can be noticed replicated across different services, including the entertainment industry and social media companies. A similar principle can be applied in an educational environment to emulate continuity in students learning.

For example, if a school decides to adopt a method with an overarching emotional objective across all subjects each week. Themes such as Appreciation, Loving, Nurturing, Thoughtfulness etc. It can be used as a starting point, and each school is welcome to take a tailored approach to this exercise.

The benefit of such activity is to create a sense of continuity in student learning. Suppose a school chooses "Nurturing" as a theme for the week. In that case, every subject period begins with a conversation amongst students and teachers about their understanding of the theme, brainstorming ways it can be applied in their daily lives. Such exercise is designed to draw students attention into the room and prepare their mindset to absorb information from their peers and teachers. But also start building an emotional foundation.

Foundation

The four foundations needed in every student's emotional intelligence journey to permit further growth are perception, understanding, management and use of emotion, taught in that order.

  • Perception - Students will interact with fellow peers, teachers, family and strangers daily. During this interaction, the number of facial expressions and body language they come across will vary. They need to have a sense of the emotion being communicated non-verbally.

  • Understanding - After becoming aware, the next step is to interpret what emotion they are sensing and what event led to that emotion being exhibited. Using the classroom as a familiar environment, students contribute to how learning objectives stimulate different emotions.

  • Management - Now that students understand the root cause of a particular emotion that might hinder them from learning, the next step will be to identify various methods that will help them stay focused in the classroom while teaching is going on.

  • Use - The final step for students in this process is learning how to use emotion to their advantage. They now can sense, understand, and manage their emotion and others. But using emotion as a learning fuel will require a lot of practice by following the steps outlined above.