Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Untapped Resources

Whatever people say about children's success at school, in practice they still use "academic excellence" as the most important rod to measure this success. To test students' cognitive abilities, such as thinking, reasoning and problem solving Intelligence Quotient (IQ) tests are used and "academic excellence" is somehow related to people's IQ. However, these IQ tests are massively criticised as being unable to test our entire intelligence. To compensate for the weaknesses of the Intelligence Quotient, the Emotional Quotient (EQ) emerged.
Daniel Goleman is the pioneer of EQ. His book 'Emotional Intelligence' was published in 1995 where the author argues that non-cognitive skills can matter as much as people's IQ to succeed in life. Unlike IQ, EQ is related to people's emotions. EQ includes understanding one's own emotions along with others'. It is said that EQ is more important than IQ to be successful. In fact, psychologists generally agree that among the ingredients for success, IQ counts for roughly 10% (at best 25%); the rest depends on everything else — including EQ.
According to Goleman (1995), emotional intelligence includes knowing one's emotions (self awareness), managing them (self regulation), motivating oneself (internal motivation), recognising emotions of others (empathy), and handling social relationships (social skills). These qualities determine personal and professional success. What is more important is that emotional intelligence can be learned at any stage.
Unfortunately, this important factor (EQ) has been missing in teaching learning activities at our schools. Forget about considering students' EQ, teachers themselves seem to be unable to utilise this resource which is readily available to them. While dealing with different types of students, teachers burn out easily. As a result, they get angry, shout at children, scold them or in severe cases, they even administer corporal punishment. The teachers may be unaware of the fact that their emotional crises affect students' success and achievement adversely.
In her article 'Why teachers need social-emotional skills' Vicki Zakrzewski indicates that the science of emotions is very new. So, teachers here may not understand how emotions impact students' learning and well-being just yet.
Before turning to develop students' EQ, it is necessary for teachers to consider checking their own EQ as this helps them not only for their personal well-being, but to improve student learning as well. For example, if teachers are able to become more emotionally intelligent, instead of quickly choosing to administer punishments, they will be able to recognise the root of their anger, as well as why students are (mis)behaving in the way that they are. This understanding helps teachers to respond with compassion, which should lead to an improvement in student behaviour.
Zakrzewski suggests that it is possible to teach without burning out and the first step for this is self-awareness. According to her, " When we can identify the emotional patterns and tendencies that keep us from being kind and compassionate and understanding, we get a huge boost toward fostering those skills in ourselves—and in others."
It should be noted that once teachers are able to recognise and regulate their own emotions, only then they can cultivate the same in their students. The available research shows that students' EQ is a critical factor for sustaining high achievement, retention and positive behaviour. Furthermore, it contributes to an overall improvement in the quality of life.

(Published in an English Daily The Rising Nepal on Friday, February 10, 2017) 
[The pictures on this blog are posted here with permission from their owners or have been gathered from various sources on the Internet. If you are the copyright-holder to any of the photographs herein do not hesitate to contact me. They will be swiftly removed if desired so.]

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I would appreciate any and all suggestions on making improvements (as long as they are viable).