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Cool teachers give the kids a little respect

The development of emotional intelligence in Scotland is set to shift up a gear with the opening of a new centre at Glasgow University - the first in the UK.

It will be headed by Richard Majors, an American-born specialist, who will collaborate with Elizabeth Morris, principal of the Gloucestershire-based School of Emotional Literacy, who plans to move to Scotland.

Dr Majors believes that emotional literacy "is coming into its own" and says Scotland can be proud of leading the UK.

He told The TES Scotland: "There has been too much emphasis on the knowledge and cognitive aspects and not enough balance. We are simply not engaging young people. But if we are going to raise attainment and improve behaviour, we need a better balance. If teachers connect with young people emotionally, you improve relationships and the climate for learning.

"Time and time again, studies tell us that what young people want is a better relationship with their teachers. The word that keeps coming up is respect - they want teachers to respect them and not to talk down to them."

Dr Majors, best known for his book Cool Pose: The Dilemmas of Black Manhood in America, said more could be done by putting resources into developing emotional and relationship issues rather than punishment and discipline.

"We are absolutely obsessed with discipline and with the assumption that children are broke and need to be fixed. I don't believe children are broke. We need to do more to help teachers engage with young people.

Teachers' emotional literacy is as important as pupils' emotional literacy."

The Glasgow University course will provide one of the modules for the chartered teacher programme, beginning in August.

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