Social Question

Pandora's avatar

Can emotional intelligence be taught?

Asked by Pandora (29927points) March 23rd, 2010

I just saw a news clip on emotional intelligence being taught at schools. They claim that children who are emotionally well connected do better in school and are better leaders and also behave better. I’ve known intelligent children who were great in school and grew to be excellent leaders despite having awkward social skills and behaved well in school.
I can see where social skills help, but I’ve also known children with excellent social skills who do poorly in school and who grew to be followers instead of leaders and in some cases also behaved poorly.
1.Do you think this is hogwash, or is this possibly true.
2. Can emotional intelligence be taught if you lack the skill, or do you need to be born with the skill?

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23 Answers

Silhouette's avatar

Yes, it can be taught. I think learning to be in control of your emotions and not letting them control you is a very valuable skill to have.

ftp901's avatar

I think it can be taught but some people just don’t care enough to learn & are doing fine without it – it’s one way to get ahead though if you don’t have any other real skills

Disc2021's avatar

1. Not at all, there’s been research done that proves it’s not exactly the pure brains that matters in the business or professional setting, but having the emotional intelligence/poise as a part of your repertoire definitely makes a larger impact.

2. I think it’s more or less something that has to be learned by practice. Like all skills; you dont tell someone how to become a good piano player or a good leader. The guidelines/principles can be taught, though in order to make people more mindful of such a thing. That way, they know how to evaluate or assess their behavior and make improvements.

Pandora's avatar

@Disc2021 Good arguement. But wouldn’t there always be people who simply don’t have the awareness to understand it all.
I know its not the same thing, but people who cannot learn to dance to save their lives. They are just simply awkward. They physically can do it but their body just doesn’t make the muscles respond in a motion they are aiming for.
Or a person who isn’t tone death but cannot grasp the idea on how to make their vocals do what they hear. They just can’t carry a tone even if they have a smooth voice.
I’ve met people who may know social norms but they just don’t comprehend it the same way someone who is bad at math can’t comprehend it.

MrsDufresne's avatar

Emotional intelligence and social skills are two entirely different things. Emotional intelligence is an internal awareness, and social skills are expressed outwardly towards others. One can have emotional intelligence, and lack social skills. (i.e. shyness). And one can also exhibit social skills, yet lack emotional intelligence (i.e. apathetic manipulation).
Emotional intelligence can be taught by example during formative childhood years. However, if that window passes, then teaching emotional intelligence is almost impossible.

Pandora's avatar

@MrsDufresne Thank you for your answer. Actually that is what I am getting at. You can have emotional intelligence but be apathetic and manipulative. So wouldn’t teaching these people these skills be pointless for what they are aiming for.
Plus should children be graded on emotional intelligence. Could it possibly hinder a shy child making them feel more like a social outcast.

sEventoRii's avatar

actually i think that’s the only way to improve eq
think about those kids that were raised in isolation as examples.

wundayatta's avatar

Not having a definition of emotional intelligence to work off of, it’s hard for me to be sure that anything I have to say is on point. It’s hard for me to understand the difference between emotional intelligence and social skills. Emotions are one way we communicate without words. Manipulating that communication is something most of us do instinctively, but it seems to me that we can be taught to be more aware of what we are saying and how to modify that message.

Further, leadership skills and management skills are certainly teachable. Whether someone does much with what they are taught is dependent on them, not what was taught. And as always, people who are not taught something can still be quite good at it.

I have long thought that we should teach things that might be part of EQ. For example, I think there should be listening classes in our grammar schools. We should teach some psychological analytic skills, mostly so kids understand the range of possible motivations for various behaviors. Negotiation and arbitration and peacemaking skills can be taught. And the ability to learn this stuff doesn’t stop when brains are mature. There are classes for this for adults.

As intelligence tests use knowledge as a proxy for the concept of intelligence, so would a test of social skills be a proxy for the concept of emotional intelligence. We could argue about what intelligence of any sort is, but it is clear we can’t measure it without making assumptions that specific knowledge and skills are evidence of intelligence. My point is that trying to say that skills are not evidence of intelligence is making a distinction without a difference. Functionally speaking, emotional intelligence is social skills, just as intelligence is what you know and your skill with using what you know.

These things can and should be taught. Teaching the skills, however, does not mean they will be employed properly, or even at all. That’s up to the individual with the skills. But folks have a better chance of using them effectively if they know them than they would if they had to make it all up for themselves.

Pandora's avatar

@wundayatta Great answer. Thanks.

anartist's avatar

This seems to be borrowed from the “field” of leadership training [for adults]; it is one of many theories marketed to/by trainers of executives. Kernel book is
Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence

But Jeez let a kid be a kid!

talljasperman's avatar

EQ is just as damaging as IQ to a childs self-esteem… I hope they don’t start testing…When I was in Kindergarten we had a checklist of social skills on the report cards and they checked your progress… people shouldn’t be compared to other people…It diminishes the persons uniqueness… Someone told my teacher that I was smart and then she told me, and I believed that I could coast through life and not give any effort…All the teachers treated me differently and I suffocated and I had to skip school to get peace. I hope the same thing doesn’t happen when some nut tries to test for EQ strength…its all leading to D&D character sheet interpretation anyway IQ =Intelligence EQ= Charisma

Pandora's avatar

@talljasperman I was wondering the same thing. It seems like they may be teaching children how to be charismatic. I’m sure there will be other skills taught but con men are charismatic but they only understand how to manipulate. Not everyone is born with a conscious.
@anartist It does seem as if the education system is trying to develop a lot of drones who can shove their emotions aside.
Funny for years doctors say holding our feelings in check is unhealthy and now they are saying to be taught to hold your feelings is a good thing for your future, your intellegence and for work.
At least when future generations die, we can say they were charismatic worker bees.

anartist's avatar

@Pandora Teaching kids to become Machiavellian before they even know who he is.

Pandora's avatar

@anartist, Exactly. I see a lot of telemarketers in our future. LOL
Whats sad already is that a lot of jobs require you take a EQ test now an days to qualify.
In the future it will probably be mandatory and you’ll probably be required to have an EQ test to get your diploma. What happens if your just one of those people who do poorly on test? I just think this is a problem like IQ test. They can test your IQ but it will never cover everything that pertains to you. Some random people will make these test based on what they know or think is important.

wundayatta's avatar

Oh dear. I don’t see it as nefarious at all. It’s more like teaching kids how to get along. It reduces bullying. It helps with problem solving. The good stuff. It’s not about how to get over on someone else. Not at all!

LostInParadise's avatar

I don’t know what is being taught, but I think it would be really good if they would teach how to act as part of a community – to be able to listen, know how to give constructive criticism, when to lead and when to follow. To counter any possible Machiavellianism, part of the training should include the ability to recognize when someone is being manipulative.

And I agree that it would be awful if students were given written evaluation of their skills.

mattbrowne's avatar

Absolutely. Try Google

and you’ll get over a million pages. You can also buy books. For example this one

Pandora's avatar

@LostInParadise Some great ideas, but is it a realistic to believe that this will work for everyone. Would we be unbalancing our childrens social nature? Would it be enough to counter what children are being taught at home. Their are some arguements that some of our EQ like IQ may be genetic traits and of course the rest may come from nurture.
If everything could be repaired at childhood than why are their children who seek counseling all of their lives well into adulthood and never still learn how to be social.
@wundayatta LOL, yes this thread may seem a bit nefarious as you say. However, I’m just trying to really get a better understanding of this. After seeing the news clip I did some more reading. It sounds like this training was developed to make as I said above better worker bees. And its been mentioned in here that it was also something being employeed by the military. I can see how it will benefit all these things and even benefit the schools but it has the feel of brain washing. Yes, it would be nice to live in a perfect world but do we have the right to brain wash our young.
If we are all taught at a young age not to ruffle any feathers then don’t we squash individual thought?
Women for centuries were taught to be nice and thoughful, mindful and caring. These traits were expected. If it wasn’t for the rebellious nature of some, women would never have been given the right to vote. They had to learn that asking nicely wasn’t going to get them anywhere.

Pandora's avatar

Actually, it just occured to me that all of this would be a moot point once they all become teens. Then raging hormones will erase most of what has been taught.
Many parents have raised well behave hard working, responsible children and have watched them spiral out of control once attraction to the opposite sex, or same sex, developed.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s about solving problems, and giving them problem solving skills, not about teaching them not to “ruffle any feathers.”

LostInParadise's avatar

@Pandora , I think part of the problem is cultural. So much emphasis has been placed on individualism that our social skills have eroded. There are more “primitive” cultures that are tribal in nature and emphasize interactions within the group.

Pandora's avatar

@LostInParadise I agree. Its not bad to be an individual but in the 70’s and 80’s we started the me generation and our children are now suffering for it. I think that a balance of a little bit of me and a little bit of we can be achieved. It just feels like they are trying to counter the me generation by teaching them we.
I’m not saying this shouldn’t be taught altogether at schools, only who is going to control this? Its not like child physiatrist have been so successful. In the past, this is what child physiatrist have come up with.

Teach children to be individuals Translation: They don’t have to conform

Don’t sufficate them. Translation: Let them figure out how to problem solve on their own.

Don’t punish them for wrongs, talk to them. They are exploring. Translation: No need for them to learn about consequences.

So now we are having to deal with the children who were raised by the me generation and who are now raising children of their own. How about teach the me generations adults.

In Japan if a child misbehaves the parents are forced to go to the school and the child cannot return till the parent shows up. How about the old concept of simply making the parent responsible and make it impossible for them not to parent.

Disc2021's avatar

@Pandora Yes and I dont think I’m discrediting that. Same story with learning to play a musical instrument or being a leader- there are some people who are just better off doing something else. Not everyone is built or raised the same way (down to the t) and therefore you’re going to end up with such diversity.

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