"Emotional Intelligence" as IQ Envy
September 16, 2013, 01:59 PM
A+
|
a-
Print Friendly and PDF

Social scientists notoriously suffer from "physics envy." This feeling is quite reasonable: physicists can predict many phenomenon (and they built the atomic bomb, which probably helps even more in garnering respect).

A stranger phenomenon, however, is "IQ envy," since the study of intelligence is routinely denounced as a pseudoscience. And, yet, if you keep your eyes open, you`ll notice that intelligence is one of the most glamorous attributes in the world of marketing. From the NYT:
Can Emotional Intelligence Be Taught? 
... Wade’s approach — used schoolwide at Garfield Elementary, in Oakland, Calif. — is part of a strategy known as social-emotional learning, which is based on the idea that emotional skills are crucial to academic performance. 
“Something we now know, from doing dozens of studies, is that emotions can either enhance or hinder your ability to learn,” Marc Brackett, a senior research scientist in psychology at Yale University, told a crowd of educators at a conference last June. “They affect our attention and our memory. If you’re very anxious about something, or agitated, how well can you focus on what’s being taught?” 
Once a small corner of education theory, S.E.L. has gained traction in recent years, driven in part by concerns over school violence, bullying and teen suicide. But while prevention programs tend to focus on a single problem, the goal of social-emotional learning is grander: to instill a deep psychological intelligence that will help children regulate their emotions. 

As far as I can tell, education, from Aesop on down, has always been concerned with instilling character, self control, and wisdom, only now these ancient goals have been rebranded as "emotional intelligence:"
... For a child to master empathy, Jones notes, she first needs to understand her own emotions: to develop a sense of what sadness, anger or disappointment feels like — its intensity and duration, its causes. That awareness is what lays the groundwork for the next step: the ability to intuit how another person might be feeling about a situation based on how you would feel in a similar circumstance.

I`m sure the peddlers of emotional intelligence workbooks have made major breakthroughs, but children tend to be interested in stories, songs, poems, novels, and movies that help them get inside other people`s heads.