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Emotional Education in the Classroom?

Science Under the Microscope

Emotional Education in the Classroom?How did I let the New York Times and Bruce Springsteen get my educational goat on Thanksgiving?

Battling the fatigue of turkey-based tryptophan overdose and trying to tune out the barrage of Christmas music that fills my house every year until December 26, I discovered David Brooks’ editorial in the New York Times entitled “The Other Education”. Reading it filled me with a combination of understanding and frustration.

Brooks makes the point that emotional education is often overlooked in our education system and that it occurred for him outside the classroom, as he listened to Bruce Springsteen’s music. He describes how the artist’s music helped him learn about emotions and experiences that he didn’t fully appreciate until recently. I am sure that Brooks’ “second education” is not unique.

I can relate to the story and the moral of this article because I, too, earned my second education from the school of rock.

Much of what I know today about love, relationships, and... dancing comes from the music of my youth. I hope to enjoy an experience like David Brooks’ when I introduce my own children to the music of their old man. The importance of emotional education can not be overstated.

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But, that is where I become frustrated. David writes as though the traditional world of education has no awareness or understanding of emotional intelligence and how it develops. While every modern teacher ed program teaches about Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, and every recent graduate is trained in strategies and techniques to address these needs, Brooks seems to think that he has discovered some novel.

I understand the Brooks’ intent is to illustrate that real learning can (and does) take place in many non-academic settings, but I can’t help but feel free jilted. We educators can’t be everything to everyone, but it’s worth acknowledging that we try to develop emotional intelligence in our classes and in the experience we create for our students. Through personal connections with our students, we can rival the effects of the legendary Bruce Springsteen.

How do you foster emotional education in your classroom? Share in the comments section!