• Project Saathi

The missing piece of the puzzle- ‘Emotional Intelligence’

-Priyanshi Bhartia*

Daniel Goleman, in 1995, postulated that ‘Emotional’ Intelligence was apparently more important than IQ. While his findings were not given due attention, successive generations of scholars began to consider his idea revolutionary in itself. And one might wonder how can a human being be intelligent in terms of their emotions, and that question has precisely led me here today. While we are so busy running after our grades and percentages, we often forget about the role of emotional and social competency in our academic success. And what makes it natural is the fact that we are conditioned to study in an environment which fosters cut-throat competition, and the mention of emotional intelligence is far away from our textbooks and blackboards. Most of us are led to believe that emotions or feelings were only meant to be ‘handled’ alone, and school is definitely the last place to bring them up; it would not allow us to complete our lengthy ‘psychology’ chapter, of course. But, what exactly is emotional intelligence? Sounds too heavy a term? Trust me, it is just the opposite. Emotional Intelligence(EI) is the ability of the people to understand their own emotions, as well as the emotions of those around them. An atypical topic to be taught in conventional classrooms? I’d want to say no, but it is not that easy you see. 

Various research studies conducted all across the globe have proven that students who have a higher quotient of emotional intelligence were more likely to perform better in their academics than their counterparts. And this wouldn’t be completely surprising, considering what emotional intelligence adds to our overall development. Recognising the heightened importance of Emotional Intelligence in Education, schools are now considering to incorporate the same into their curriculum. But the central question stands quite unanswered- How exactly do we stitch the concept of Emotional Intelligence in this rather detailed and comprehensive fabric of ‘Academic Curriculum’? In studies conducted across various schools, there is definitely one common excuse for not being able to amalgamate EI in their courses, and that is-” The time is limited” or “We already have a crowded curriculum”, all of which is absolutely true and cannot be negated. But what we need to do is find a middle ground, which might sound easily achievable but comes with its own set of obstacles.

How do we find that middle ground? To start with, the schools should sort out the time that they can spare for lessons which would primarily deal with Emotions and managing them. Now, EI is an umbrella term, comprising various topics under it, all of which cannot be taught in isolation. To be specific, there are 5 main areas that come under EI: Self-Awareness, Emotional-Control, Self-Motivation, Empathy and Relationship skills. What can be done is that a unique course can be formulated which would consist of activities and skill-training workshops for all the above-mentioned domains of EI. In having done so, the schools would have a comprehensive yet not a very time-consuming method of adopting EI into their education process. Perhaps an ‘Active Listening Workshop’ could be arranged, which would not only enhance the communication skills of the students, but also allow them to develop interpersonal relations, thus working on 2 fields of EI simultaneously, and saving time for completing their syllabi. Another effective way of developing a child’s emotional quotient is to have them get familiar with a ‘Vocabulary for Feelings’- wherein, through activities, the educators make sure that the children know how to differentiate between ‘sad’ and ‘disappointed’. Again, this initiative would not only allow them to self-regulate their emotions but also be more considerate towards how others feel and understand where they come from. Students could work with NGOs and other organisations during their breaks as volunteers and interns in order to develop management skills and empathy towards others. The list of activities that can be emulated is endless, but the willingness to get it done is what matters. And at the end of the day, a lot of it also depends on how passionate we are to learn. How curious the students are to learn about emotions, to dive deeper into the world of sentiments, a world they have not physically been exposed to. As high school students, you all can definitely ignite this process at your respective schools. Just take the initiative, and it is as easy as it sounds. One may at least At least approach their  your teachers. Talk to them about the benefits of Emotional Intelligence, convince them through presentations and debates. Come up with a plan, talk to them about how the school would not lose out on academic studies. Only when you try, you will be satisfied that you did. If it works, there is nothing better.

The fact that the education system of India is majorly theoretical should not discourage us from striving for the better, and evolving as and when the time demands us to. EI and its incorporation in our curriculum is one such step that we need to undertake in order to make sure that we as the ‘educated youth’ of this society, are on a constant road to progress. If not us, then who? And if we do not start to think about this now, we will never be able to hop on to the wagon. While contemplating this entire concept, the only words that hung on my mind were that ‘ Emotions Matter’. And then I realised what was more important, and it was that ‘Managing the myriad of emotions is what actually and truly matters’. And Emotional Intelligence, when interwoven with education, would allow us to exactly do that.

*Priyanshi is a Core Team Associate at Project Saathi. She leads the PR Division. As an avid lover of psychology coupled with strong interpersonal skills, she manages the Volunteers in the organisation. Presently having given her 12th standard boards, she awaits a fresh life at College.

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