Emotional education and meaningful learning

"Every time you hear Emotional Intelligence, shot" writes Maestra de Pueblo on her FB page. It's funny because when you study the scientific papers that have been written on the subject and then you read how the theory is put into practice in the classroom in those schools which claim to work it, I wonder if the human race would not be destined to unhappiness and frustration forever.

Until very recently, students were seen as passive receivers of knowledge. A teacher vomited notions from a platform and the students tried to retain as much as possible in order to vomit them again in a test, and so on up to the finish line.

However, we have known since the '60s of the past century, (mind it!) that everything we do, think, imagine or remember is possible because the rational and emotional parts of the brain work together, depending on each other. For this reason the emotions, both of children and their teachers, must be taken into account in the pedagogical act.

When we hear that 'There can be no knowledge without emotion (Arnold Bennet)' they mean the same thing, and it is scientifically and widely proven, even if it has been ignored for practicality. As Cesar Bona states, "Every child is a universe. All children are extraordinary and it is not enough to fill their heads with data, but it is necessary to provide them with tools such as knowledge, empathy, sensitivity and resilience so that they can emerge strengthened from adverse situations...".

What is emotional intelligence? According to Goleman, emotional intelligence involves five basic capabilities: discovering one's own emotions and feelings, recognizing them, managing them, creating one's own motivation and managing personal relationships.

Emotional education, therefore, is linked to the emotional intelligence since, in order for a person to be emotionally intelligent and resolute, he must have received an emotional education. And as incredible as it may seem, it has a lot to do with learning and therefore knowledge. In fact, nowadays, whenever we talk about learning, we overlook significant learning, that is, useful learning which makes sense to the student, and which awakes such interest that he wants to learn more every day. However, if you look at the three circles of the graph, there is a fundamental aspect that has nothing to do with notions and previous knowledge, and it is the availability of the student to learn, in other words his motivation, which depends on his self-concept and self-esteem. 

A student who knows how to recognize and accept his emotions will be able to learn to decide which behavior is the most appropriate to be handled according to the circumstances, in such a way that they contribute to a positive social and personal constructive interaction, capable of contributing to the elevation of his quality of life. In practice, one third of a student's chances of success or failure depends on their emotions.

Currently, emotional education in preschool and primary classrooms is given to students as if it was just another subject: in most cases children have to work  with cards, activities, games, stories, roleplay, drawings, etc. so they can recognize and name their emotions". It's all very interesting, all very nice and probably very useful.

But, what about the teacher? Let's repeat it again: emotions, both of the children and of their teachers, must be taken into account in the pedagogical act. This statement implies the whole amount of hours spent at school and not only a little dedicated time.

I wonder if it makes sense to talk about emotional education in the classroom when the first piece of advice we get when a student misbehaves during a class is to sit him on the thinking chair, punish him, or rather ignore him?

What message do we communicate to them? "The tale of the Colour Monster is a very nice one, but right now, whatever you feel, it's the wrong moment, so either you stay still or I'll set you apart, because we have worksheets to do and a program to continue with without wasting time.

We are fine with the fact that, in the end, what does it matter if out of 28/30 students, 4 or 5 can not handle their emotions properly? After all, they will learn to control themselves they like it or not, otherwise they will spend the rest of their school days being punished, victims of the mocking of their classmates, unmotivated and wanting to run away from school asap. An avalanche generated by a small snowball that, day after day, gains speed and mass to run over us with the second place in school failure among all the countries of the European Union (I'm talking about Spain).

I give you good news: we can make the most of the snowball effect. If we spend those 3-4 minutes talking to our students and asking them how they feel and how they think they might feel better (sometimes there's nothing more to be done than that), letting them clear up with a classmate who has unintentionally upset them, or just sitting them close to us, instead of continuing with the class as nothing is happening, perhaps at the beginning of the year it will slow us down a bit, but as they feel comfortable in class, they will stop expressing discomfort and we will have earned their trust in such an overwhelming way that they will become our most attentive and participative students.

In short, as they conclude, in this scientific article on the subject:

"Cognition and emotion constitute a dialectical whole, in such a way that the modification of one irremediably influences the other and the whole of which they are part of. Therefore, in the classroom, learning often depends more on the emotion than on the reason the learning objectives are worked with. All this leads us to point out that if the heart of the student is won, learning is practically assured.

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1 comment:

  1. Great post about emotional education because nowadays everyone need this education to overcome the emotions and stress. You can also take a look at UNESCO MGIP, they write very well about, social and Emotional Learning, I am very impressed with the way they share thoughts on the subject.