Recently we have attended several educational events: IX Education World Congress and Educational Innovation Congress: Dyslexia, ADD and Adaptations. We can extract irrefutable and known truths from both: we find ourselves in a time of change; we need to revise our educational know-how, our role as the classroom manager, our objectives, the need to shape socially active and ethical people. At the same time, we are obliged to reject a methodology based on memorization, a system of teaching/learning by the book, and substitute it with a bimodal learning technique using mainly “ITT” (Industrial Technology Techniques) and “LKT” (Learning Knowledge Techniques) which allows a child´s natural capacities to bloom (j.e. marina).
We have heard about the key concept: “change of paradigm”: bimodal and technological leader, personal and emotional development, education through cultural and linguistic internationalization, innovation and methodology, etc. All of these definitions lead to one conclusion: emotional intelligence. Daniel Goleman, defender of this idea, poses the classic discussion between cognition and emotional in a new way. Traditionally the word “cognitive” is associated with reason, the brain, therefore with intelligence, professional, scientific, academic, etc. And “emotional” is associated with the heart, feelings, feminine, passion, instincts, etc. Traditionally, reason is a level above emotion. Goleman looks at this idea the other way around, emotion above reason, at a time when science is starting to question the superiority of the left hemisphere over the right, questioning what has been defined in the 20th century. He proposes a change similar to: efficiency, know-how and effectiveness are both intrapersonal and interpersonal, similar to Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. Especially because, after all, they come together at the same point: change of paradigm that changes the way of teaching in our schools that will really prepare our students for the future.
To talk about E.I., we need to know about the worldwide neuroscientists investigations, which can make it even more difficult to apply this idea in the classroom.
It is obvious that our traditional educational system, as it stands, is in a state of crisis; school failure, no creative alternatives to link education to the working world, which our students must very soon confront. It is a moment of constant change and we need to be prepared. That is our goal, and both intrapersonal and interpersonal will help us obtain positive results.
Today, we need to be highly competent in ability management, skills, potentials and capabilities, in order to better our society and, in the end, our way of life. But, it isn’t less important, to know how to manage our emotions.
This interaction must be automatic, to be capable of managing both our own and other emotions, to motivate ourselves and others, to be able to relate to and with others. In our schools we must use intelligence as an alternative learning device to potentiate our students so that they are able to interact intelligently in their social environment. If we know ourselves from the inside, we can value ourselves as people and can react effectively when faced with new challenges, adapt to accelerated postmodern changes without losing our perspective of who we are, work as a group instead of individually, and, in the end, build a fair and reasonable society with opportunities for all.
Salovey and Mayer, the first ones to formulate the E.I. concept, define five important capabilities, which Goleman says are vital when valuing people´s level of intelligence: three correspond to intrapersonal intelligence (self control, self awareness, and motivation) and two correspond to interpersonal intelligence (empathy and social skills).
Today, teachers should also focus on emotional intelligence, shaping creative and enterprising persons, meaning that we should rethink school curriculums, and offer basic academic tools such as: effective language management, focus on group work, conflict solving, creativity, emotional leadership…
Once exposed to the importance of emotional intelligence, we should target, as our next step, the competences that deal with personal and social development. Emotional development, considered by Rafael Bisquerra and others, as a bases in life, which flow into emotional education, with three important components: neurophysiological, behavior and cognitive.
There are studies made in U.S.A. which show that children educated based on emotional intelligence starting at age 2, after 4 years are more empathetic, independent, have fewer behavioral problems and work better in groups as opposed to those students not in this program. And, if we only talk about academic results, these students receive better grades in maths and language.
Research done in Spain corroborates these studies. Experts, like Fernández Berrocal or Durán and Rey, after years of investigation, published their results that show that students educated in E.I. are less likely to have problems with stress, anxiety, pessimism and aggressiveness. They feel more personal satisfaction, they have better life quality, they are more empathetic and have better work attitude, or they are more likely to obtain better academic results. They even affirm that: “people without these abilities (E.I.) can resort to drugs in order to hide, eliminate or decrease their negative emotional states or to generate more positive emotional states”.
Every teacher knows that an emotional balanced child is prepared to learn. If we consider this to be absolutely true, we have to change our objectives: provide contents, plan activities, etc., in order to design intervention programs that are put into practice, follow through, and after a short term, evaluate, just as Fernandez Berrocal states, “in the educational field, good changes are hard to detect over a short period”.
E.I. objectives in schools, following Rafael Bisquerras investigations, consist of: detecting poor discharge of emotions, know our emotions and recognize them in others, their feelings and state of spirit; teach students to modulate and manage their feelings; develop a tolerance for everyday frustrations; offer strategies to have a positive outlook on life; prevent interpersonal conflicts; better their school, family and community life, and therefore, learn to live with a quality of life.
In order to achieve this objective it is necessary to a have a different teacher model, with a different profile who takes on the “emotional alphabetization” process, in an efficient way for himself and his students. This new teacher should be aware of the latest contributions in favor of E.I., be formed in how to implement it in class, and of course be a model for students to follow.
Bimodal learning, technological leadership, internationalization, innovation, multiple intelligences, neuroscience…mean to assume, enthusiastically, the predisposition to change, the necessity of a new educational paradigm including a focus on emotional intelligence.
“Learn how to manage change before change manages you”. Teachers are obliged ethically to be teachers in the art of change, to teach our students to be flexible, and to be visionaries of what may come in the future.