Emotional Intelligence, Vulnerability and the Brain: Part 2 I Oxford Open Learning

Emotional Intelligence, Vulnerability and the Brain: Part 2

Boyd_Waters_profile_pictureThe first part of this article concluded with reference to the concept of Rational Learning. This type of learning needs to be done in cooperation with a developing emotional intelligence, part of which is not being afraid to be vulnerable. This is an incredible skill to learn and one that needs to be taught from a child’s earliest days. Vulnerability is a central part of being alive and being human. There is a paradox in the nature of vulnerability in that when an individual is not being afraid to be vulnerable it makes them extraordinarily powerful as a more fully functioning human being. Learning this art, of striking a balance between the left and right influences of the brain, has not been culturally developed or supported, but it is not impossible to learn or teach it.

In place of the fear of vulnerability, children could be taught to befriend and speak about their feelings in a creative and useful way. This does not detract from their ability to learn rational subjects at the same time. Thinking and feeling can go together. In practice it would be very helpful to start the day with a brief check in on a personal and emotional level combined with witnessing the check in of others. I have tried this to a limited extent with some classes when I was teaching, combined with using some meditation to help calm and settle pupils. It was quite effective, but to develop its potential requires the time and support to allow you as a teacher to carry it out regularly. It needs to be built into the philosophy of the individual school, which of course requires the management and staff of a school to know what this is all about. Unfortunately the education system as a whole is fundamentally ignorant about this type of brain and emotional development.

The expression of emotions and personal stories being heard promotes pupils’ capacity for rational learning. This stimulates both hemispheres of the brain while allowing each pupil to experience safety, and the acceptance that fosters the ability to think for themselves. As they become aware that the emotional realities of others are a constant background to human life, pupils receive a clear grounding in emotional intelligence, which we now understand is a necessary condition for good decision making. A secondary benefit is the practice of empathy skills, which is an essential component of relating to others.
In summary, feeling loved, wanted and cared about is crucial.

Source of material and for further reading on this topic,
Wounded Leaders by Nick Duffell 2014

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Andrew Bateson is 57 years old and initially trained as a Geologist. He has been a secondary school teacher for 22 years teaching Chemistry and Science to 11 to 18 year olds. Previously he worked in the Ceramic industry in research and development and then management. He has experience of both the independent and state sectors, teaching in single sex and mixed sex schools. As a Union Rep., he followed educational policy closely throughout his teaching career. He has retired from teaching to continue working with OOL and to retrain as a Psychotherapist.

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