Should We Teach Emotional Intelligence in Schools?

NY Times article on teaching “Emotional Intelligence.”

My initial thoughts on this article:

The field of teaching children such skills as self-regulation is promising. There’s some great research pointing to the value, cognitively and community-wide, of a kind of melding of neuroscience and very old techniques, such as mindfulness practice.

I have a ton of reservation however, about a quick jump on the bandwagon approach…not the least of which addresses the need to understand what is being asked of teachers. Teachers would need more than scripts; they’d need training in self-regulation and posess SEM themselves. The example in the article (about finding words to use in response to being yelled at by “mommy”) has potential value but puts a teacher dangerously close to some risk from at least a couple of angles, including properly assessing the risk for domestic violence from “arming” a child with the “correct phrasing.” This is a job for professional counselors as a general rule.

I also take issue with the idea that this furthers Dewey’s ideas of not having just vocational schools. That sounds a bit snobbish. Wouldn’t “vocational students” benefit from SEM too?

I hope that with enough time and training, schools would do much better at teaching a holistic curriculum, one that did more than teach to the cerebral cortex and slightly to the left.

About Sanford

Learning Disabilities specialist and Educational Consultant
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