Friday, May 13, 2005

EQ in Education

Emotional intelligence is largely being implemented in the work place. However, we only tend to hear about EQ being implemented in education in the form of mass assemblies that preach the importance of self-esteem and saying no to drugs.

In the article linked above, using EQ in a one-on-one coaching scenario appears to boost the EQ of said employee. As a teacher and one-on-one educator, I find that the article describes precisely how I approach my students.

The science of the motivational gap is less important than the art of what happens during one-on-one conversations in which the leader gets to know the employee and seeks to understand rather than to be heard.

Leader as Coach outlines the respective roles of the development partnership. The supervisor agrees to act as a coach by working one-on-one, orchestrating resources and learning opportunities, and providing encouragement for learning and focus. The direct report agrees to assume primary responsibility for his or her development by setting priorities, accepting new challenges, testing new behaviors, reflecting and extracting learning, and seeking feedback and support.

Optimally, one-on-one teaching should encourage the same roles. While working with my students, teaching becomes a cooperative event with much back and forth discussion. Lecturing is not an option. Students are asked to set their own goals and I highly encourage them to face their challenges head-on with a positive and open minded attitude.

Furthermore, I have observed that my students tend to vary on how they react to my "leader as coach" role depending on what type of education they are receiving. Homeschoolers largely accept my role as facilitator and show the highest EQ in the form of internal motivation as well as external appreciation for our sessions. Students in non-traditional school settings (charter schools, Montessori, etc.) also show a high degree of EQ. However, students in traditional settings tend to have a more difficult time accepting my role as a coach, and would largely prefer that I act as a lecturer or Pez-dispenser of knowledge (giving out information that can be easily accessed without the need for thought-provoking discussion time).

To some degree, we are all products of our environment. The more independent minded the education, the more independent the student. Traditional schools tend to foster dependency on the teacher and her knowledge. It would be quite atrocious to blame my traditional-students who have a difficult time with the question, "Well, what do you think?" It's surely quite frustrating to a student who goes to school, gets their lecture and answer session, then comes home to me and is asked to think for themselves. It's a mixed message at best...I just hope mine wins out.