kitchen table math, the sequel: Emotional Intelligence brings empathy!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Emotional Intelligence brings empathy!

This shocking discovery was worthy of a headline in last week's New Haven Register.

Within the article, one finds pronouncements that are similarly astounding:
Emotional intelligence plays a part in a variety of human interactions.
“Emotions are fundamental to who we are as humans. If we don’t have emotions, we can’t do our work, we can’t make decisions, we can’t have relationships.”
The person quoted here is Susan Rivers, deputy director of the Center for Emotional Intelligence at Yale University. As the article's lede explains: "Emotional intelligence is in the ascendancy at Yale University."

Yale, the same Ivy League institution that designed a new test that measures creative and practical skills and proposed it as a placement for the SATs, has recently jumped on the decades-old emotional intelligence bandwagon. This fall, it will officially open its emotional intelligence center. As the article reports:
The center, already operational, recently held its biggest training session to date, with educators from more than 50 schools across the country. They join 75,000 school leaders from more than 500 schools worldwide who also have had the training.
What exactly does the training consist of? It's hard to tell. In the words of director Marc Brackett:
“It isn’t a kit you can buy. It’s an approach. We are teaching the teachers and the kids. Some people call these 21st-century skills."
As the Register explains:
The training is known specifically as the RULER approach. It stands for: recognizing emotions, understanding the causes and consequences of emotions, labeling the full range of feelings, expressing them appropriately and regulating them.
Despite the gigantic number of school leaders who have already "had the training," much of it has yet to be developed. Purportedly in the works are instructional videos, games, and online simulations that will, in the Register's words, "illustrate emotional intelligence."

First train people, then develop the training curriculum... what's the logical final step? Perhaps, after hundreds of thousands more people have been trained and hundreds more schools have signed on and millions of dollars have changed hands, the center will conduct an efficacy study.

The ultimate goal? In the words of director Marc Brackett: "making Connecticut an emotionally intelligent state — one district at a time." How could anyone argue with that?

As for Yale itself, presumably it will take the lead in making emotional intelligence the single most important criteria for college admissions. In fact, it's already moving in this direction--especially when it comes to homeschooled applicants. "Yale wants to make sure homeschooled kids are not socially awkward," Joanne Jacobs reports. She cites Yale's admissions website:
We look for evidence of social maturity from all our applicants and especially from home-schooled students. Your personal statement, interests and activities, and letters of recommendation should speak to your ability to integrate well with other students and tell us about your non-academic interests.
As a side note, when it comes to impositions on home schooled children, we find another Yale-connected educational power broker. This would be Yale alumnus David Coleman, former lead architect of the Common Core and current president of the College Board. Coleman has been working had to align the SATs with the Common Core--in ways that, as Paula Bolyard writes in a recent post on Pajamas Media, may pressure home schools to conform to what's going on everywhere else.

Now all we need is for the Common Core to broaden its standards enough to make emotional intelligence its Meta-Standard. After all, emotions are so fundamental to who we are that, if we don’t have them, we can’t make decisions and do our work. Let alone attain any of the Common Core Standards.

(Cross-posted at Out in Left Field).


SteveH said...

"As for Yale itself, presumably it will take the lead in making emotional intelligence the single most important criteria for college admissions."

As the tide of college-age applicants ebbs, this approach will become less viable. Or else, when students flunk, they will take it very well.

Robin/Student of History said...


the emotional and social learning meta-standard is in place. Through the Positive SChool Climate mandate, AdvancED's accreditation standards that went into place in 2011, and the feds erroneous interpretations of what is required as equality of opportunity not to run afoul of civil rights laws.

Yale is also building on the work of long-time profs there Robert Sternberg and James Comer.

Plus the OECD criteria many states are adopting in little-read but binding statutes pull in the social and emotional through language about competency and soft skills.