It’s the beginning of a new school year and I am carrying out some research into Emotional Intelligence.
It seems that Emotional Intelligence represents an ability to validly reason with emotions and to use emotions to enhance thought, being a capacity to reason about emotions, and of emotions to enhance thinking. It includes the abilities to accurately perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth. Emotional intelligence is involved in the capacity to perceive emotions, assimilate emotion-related feelings, understand the information of those emotions, and manage them.
Discussions developing understanding of Emotional Intelligence will connect well with our Units of Inquiry, specifically, our inquiry into ‘Learning to Understand Ourselves’ an inquiry into human relationships, including families, friends and communities and cultures, responsibilities. An exploration of what it means to be human. Goleman, suggests that, “…our deepest feelings, our passions and longings, are essential guides, and that our species owes much of its existence to their power in human affairs.” (p.3, 1996). Our Learning to Learn unit, focusses on learning with and through others, and how we can become a learning community. Emotional Intelligence will be a key element of this inquiry. A third Unit, ‘Learning to Understand Societies’ demands that we consider the world of relationships and the role of community. Thinking about Emotional Intelligence will certainly enhance the development of these inquiries.
This week I have asked the children to talk about their ideas about feelings.
I was touched by the level of depth to their responses. The children began by suggesting some of the feelings that they have,
“I can feel happy.”
“I can feel angry and sad.”
“If I am nice to my friend, they feel nice and I feel nice.”
“On the bicycle I feel happy going super fast.”
“I feel happy when I see rainbows and butterflies.”
“Building with magnets makes me happy.”
As the children identified different feelings, I was surprised at how they were already aware of the extent that we are connected to others through our emotions. There seemed to be some understanding that the way other people can affect the way we feel and also that we can affect the feelings of others.
“I was happy because I had friends. My friends help me. We play together and take turns.”
“Monta make me happy.”
“Be kind to your friends, it makes me feel happy. And if they are feeling sad and blue it makes them feel better.”
“You can share and be nice, it makes me feel good and happy and kind.”
“It makes me sad when people are sad.”
The conversation developed into sharing theories about what is going on inside you when you experience different feelings. I find it fascinating to explore ideas about the invisible and challenging children to consider what can not be seen, thus activating the meaning-making competencies of children as a basis of learning.
“It comes from our brains and hearts.”
“Your brain gets the idea and then you tell your heart and then you say.”
“If you are sad all of your body is sad.”
“From whole inside your body.”
“They work together as a team, your brain and your heart.”
“The blood turns red when you are angry.”
“The blood is red and helps you to think and feel angry or sad or happy.”
“The heart gets black when you are angry.”
The children made graphic representations of their theories and shared their drawings. For some of the children, it is easier to express their thinking through drawing rather than verbally. For some children drawing helps them to clarify their ideas as they find ways to illustrate their ideas on paper.
“The heart and the brain makes you smile.”
“Inside it’s like a volcano exploding. Hot lava and rocks coming when you are getting mad.”
“Hugging makes me happy. The brain and the heart work together. They are a team.”
‘When I feel happy, it’s like flying.”
“Feeling mad. Big sharp teeth. The bones and the heart are getting ready to punch. They are angry too. Tornado in my brain. Steam is coming out of my ears. My head is almost exploding.”
“I have a volcano in me when I am angry. I have a volcano in my belly.”
“When I’m happy it’s like I have rainbows and colour dots in my body. It’s like the sun is shining.”
“My brain goes black when I am sad.”
We tend to move slowly, discussing theories, interpreting ideas and re-interpreting together. I felt it was useful to spend several sessions exploring our ideas about feelings. These are ideas we will re-visit many times over the year as we try and understand ourselves and others. These sessions have been successful in helping the children to be aware of their emotions, to see a connection between their emotions and the brain and to begin to consider how they manage their own feelings.