Emotional Intelligence

I was recently reading an article in the NY Times concerning school systems adding courses in social-emotional learning to their curricula and went rummaging around my book stacks for my copy of Dr. Daniel Goleman’s book.

The concept of emotional intelligence came into common awareness in the early 1990’s with the  term attributed to two Yale psychologists, Dr. John Mayer and Dr, Peter Salovey.  By 1995 Dr. Goleman wrote “Emotional Intelligence,” a book that was on the NY Times bestseller list for over a year and has been translated into 40+ languages.

So many solutions are put out there for remedying the violence in our families, schools, and workplaces. { CNN is covering the latest workplace shooting at the Navy Yard as I am writing this.)  Perhaps the best approach might be to start very early in each human’s education to teach and coach emotional regulation. It isn’t an easy matter to measure the emotional intelligence quotient, but the results of a lack of it get our attention tragically in the forms of bullying, school violence,  teen and younger suicides, and loss of precious life. Maurice Elias, a Rutgers psychologist and director of the university’s Social-Emotional Learning Lab,  has called emotional literacy  “the missing piece” in American education.

emotional_intellWhat does this missing piece consist of?  Dr. Goleman describes EI, emotional intelligence, as including “self mastery, self-awareness, and self-regulation.”  His concept of social intelligence includes  empathy and skills to get along with others.  In an application of his concepts to leadership, Dr. Goleman cites the ability to lead oneself as necessary to being able to lead others.

In coming columns, I hope to explore in more detail some of these components.  We are not helpless to improve the quality of our lives and the lives of our children.  It may be that we need school not only to teach us not how to think and learn but how to be happy and emotionally stable humans.

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