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Get Ahead Kids® Feature Article
Get Ahead Kids - Vol. 5, No. 4 - July/August 2013

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Are We Missing a Piece of the Educational Puzzle?

By Michelle Lee

Imagine students, teachers, parents and school communities communicating with honesty, understanding, respect, and enthusiastically encouraging one another to pursue their individual passions.

An ideal educational framework would focus on IQ as well as SEL (Social & Emotional Learning).

China's President Xi Jin Ping said in May 2013, that;
"Emotional Intelligence (EL) is important for adapting to society, although it should be used together with professional knowledge and techniques."

Emotional and Social Intelligence are not new terms. Ever since these concepts were popularised by Daniel Goleman in 1995 and 2006.
Goleman states that EL is the added value that distinguishes outstanding performers and leaders from the average.

The EL skill set determines efficiency at handling self, relationships, and in some cases matters more than IQ.

Someone with a high EL quotient has higher levels of discipline, motivation, empathy, resilience, communication, and leadership skills.

The great thing about EL is that it can be taught at any age.
These are only some of the benefits of SEL for students, as well as teachers:

  • Awareness of self, skills, attributes, & talents
  • Strong & positive fellow student &
    social peer cooperation & communication
  • Emotional management, control of impulses, increased empathy
  • Improved personal management, self-confidence, self-esteem, & self-worth
  • Increased resilience to obstacles & setbacks
  • Increased motivation & focus on goals and individual passions
  • Improved effectiveness through problem solving, voluntary contribution & responsibility

A meta-analysis of more than 200 separate studies where EL based programs were taught, found that:

  • Positive behaviour rose by 10%
  • Negative behaviour dropped by 10%
  • Academic scores jumped up by 11%

Despite the wonders of science and the progress of technology, how often do we hear about disengaged staff and students; staff who have lost their passion for teaching; staff who struggle to communicate; parents who demand more; kids who do less; who are distracted, disruptive, absent or even dangerous.

As Amanda Tocii, Managing Director and Literary Specialist in Australia stated in an earlier article in Get Ahead Kids, "...Technology does not mean it allows your child true interaction with their environment." In fact, the advent of "social media" can be argued to be a major contributor to "anti-social" behaviour, particularly cyber-bullying.

If we consider these grim Australian statistics:

  • 100 school age children take their lives each year, with another 20 times that attempting suicide
  • 7,000 are admitted to hospital after self harming each year, which does not include those who suffer in silence
  • In 2010, 1 in 4 were recognised to have psychological problems. In 2013 this is expected to rise to 1 in 3
  • Bullying & depression issues are escalating while social behaviour deteriorates

Isn't it time we start doing something drastically different?

Let's shift the focus from academic achievements and outcomes based funding to social, emotional and life skill aptitude outcomes and firmly implement this major piece of the educational puzzle, for the well being and sanity of our children and our teachers.

About Michelle Lee

Michelle Lee is a Transformational Life Coach at UpnAway Career & Life Coaching, based in Newcastle NSW. She successfully guides adults and teens to transform their lives and to pursue their passion and purpose. Michelle has developed SEL programs to be used in or out of school and together with other professionals builds programs to enhance mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.

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