From a young age, we’re taught math, science and English in the U.S. to bolster our intellectual and academic development. While these areas are essential to a quality education, we as a society must invest more in emotional learning as well.
A recent article in The New York Times by Daniel Goleman, co-director of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at Rutgers University, discusses the importance of emotional intelligence on both personal and professional success. When a student excels, we often credit the success his or her IQ. Obviously, people need academic intelligence to solve calculations and read critically. However, individuals cannot reach their potential without proper emotional intelligence and — perhaps more importantly — emotional stability.
Think about a traditional classroom. Grades dominate as the foremost factor in examining student success. However, we cannot rely on grades to be the only measure of student potential. South Korea is a prime example of the need for balanced education. Education experts often consider South Korea’s education system to be one of the best in the world. Academically, they’re right. The darker side of the story, though, is that South Korean students commit suicide at a very high rate for a developed country. In fact, suicide is the leading cause of death for South Koreans aged 15 to 24, according to Voices of Youth, a UNICEF organization aimed at helping children internationally exchange knowledge and ideas. If we taught students everywhere when they were young that there is more to life than grades and test scores, their stress levels would decrease, guiding them toward a long and happy life.
Here in the United States, we must create more initiatives to educate students on emotional intelligence and stability. Students must learn about emotional health and intelligence from an early age. Just like with language, the earlier we teach children, the sooner emotional complexities will become less intimidating and more familiar aspects of life. Students must know boys can cry, everyone has feelings and teachers and counselors are available for both academic and emotional assistance.
School can serve as an environment in which students can develop emotional skills necessary for living in the often harsh modern world. From early grades, we should ask students about how they feel. Yes, the question may seem trite to us, but learning to openly discuss personal feelings is essential — not only for understanding oneself, but also for understanding others, which is an important component of both emotional intelligence and stability.
No matter how old you are, it’s never too early or too late to talk about the complexities of human emotion. So talk, realize and understand the importance of emotional acceptance and stability.