Supplementary Reader Project, "Emotional Intelligence" : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

"Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman

Parts 1,2 and 3

A Review by Karen Rigdon

The book Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman challenges the narrow view that IQ scores largely determine our destiny in life. Goleman reminds the reader that decades of research, studies and experiments have shown that many people with high IQ scores struggled, while many with humble IQ scores did surprisingly well. The reason for this could well be that those with a modest IQ possessed skills such as self-control, zeal and persistence, and the ability to self-motivate. These skills, as well as subduing destructive emotional impulses, being able to read anothers innermost feelings and respond appropriately, and knowing how to handle relationships smoothly are all examples of what Goleman calls emotional intelligence".

It is fascinating to consider the truism that IQ contributes only about 20% to factors that determine success in life. In his book,Frames of Mind, Howard Gardner challenged the IQ view and identified seven key varieties of intelligence. Some of these intelligences include spatial capacity, kinesthetic genius and interpersonal skills. At one point, his list had stretched to twenty different varieties of intelligences.

When one accepts the broader view of multiple intelligence, a child with a low IQ has added hope for success. Gardner says, The single most important contribution education can make to a childs development is to help him toward a field where his talents best suit himWe should spend less time ranking children and more time helping them to identify their natural competencies and gifts, and cultivate those.

Gardner, along with Yale psychologist Peter Salovey, have been influential in their studies that show how crucial personal or emotional intelligence is. Of particular interest to educators, is the discovery that emotional intelligence skills can be taught to children. Kelly Ravenfeather, LICSW of Lutheran Social Services in Duluth, encourages teachers in her workshops to help students learn to soothe their anxiety before tests with deep breathing exercises. For the most part, the emotional education of children has been left to fate, with tragedies making headlines far too often. Neurological data does imply a window of opportunity for molding our childrens emotional habits. Goleman advocates the schooling of the whole child with a balance between head and heart, thought and feeling.

I found the chapter entitled Passions Slaves to be full of answers for many puzzling life circumstances, as well as excellent tips for empowering ones life through self awareness. For example, I understand now why some people blow up or loose control of themselves. This is due to the design of the brain that triggers an emergency response in the limbic brain, before the thinking brain has a chance to fully analyze the situation for a fine tuned response. Being swept away by an emotion can be out of our control, but we can control how long an emotion lasts. We can learn how to shake off unfavorable moods and soothe ourselves. We can practice challenging the thoughts that trigger anger. We can take a time out so that we will cool down and have time alone to seek out healing distractions.

With knowledge and practice, out-of-control emotions can be brought back into line. This, Goleman says, is the master aptitude because out-of-control emotions thwart the intellect. Combined with hope and optimism, the person who can pull back the reins on out-of-control emotions can enhance their ability to think flexibly and with more complexity.

In the classroom, each teacher has their own methods to avoid situations that could become emotionally volatile and distract learning. Tim Everson, a secondary computer teacher in International Falls, lays down clearly stated classroom rules. He makes sure that all the students understand the rules, and academic expectations. If they break the rules, he reminds them that they chose to do so and, therefore, have no reason to be angry with him for the consequences of their decisions. Everson also makes it a point never to yell or scream at anyone in his classes thereby modeling emotional control to his students. Direct confrontation is avoided as it has the occasion to lead to physical violence against the teacher.

At the elementary level, kindergarten teacher Mary Moe of International Falls, has one rule posted in her classroom. Never, no never, hurt anyone on the outside or the inside. In the first week of school they all discuss the rule and she asks, How do we hurt someone on the inside? Do we take their skin off to get inside them? After a short discussion time she says that the children catch on that this is done by saying something mean to someone or teasing them. If the rule is broken, she asks the student, What is the number one rule? The consequence for breaking the rule is missing playtime, which is extremely painful for kindergartners. This exemplifies the building of the foundational emotional intelligence skill of empathy.

The emotional intelligence skills (also referred to as character development skills) are a necessity to maintain an optimal learning environment in school. They also are needed in marriage, family and community life and in the work place to ensure harmony and productivity. From the yesterdays of the great philosopher Aristotle to the groundbreaking present day psychologist Goleman, we have seen that the only way for individuals to live truly committed to civil and moral values is to put aside ones self-centered focus and impulses and to continually strive to be emotionally literate.

-- Anonymous, November 24, 1998

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