Finding the balance between caring and clever

14th February 2003 at 00:00
EQ + IQ = Best Leadership Practices for Caring and Successful Schools. Edited by Maurice J Elias, Harriett Arnold and Cynthia Steiger Hussey. Corwin Press pound;23.

This is a collection of papers about the nature and importance of emotional intelligence. Our EQ (emotional quotient), it says, is of equal status with our IQ (intelligence quotient) and worthy of at least as much attention.

It's a good primer because it starts by explaining what EQ is and why it's important. It goes further by providing examples of the part the emotions play in learning and the life of the classroom. The 25 contributors relate their work to the realities of school - some are pretty harsh. At one end of the scale there's Alan Blankstein, whose example of the boy who comes to school defiantly wearing a hat will be recognisable to many teachers. At the other, a chapter by Linda Lantieri describes the Harlem of 1968, when conditions were difficult but there was a strong sense of community, and contrasts with today's pressures.

Particularly interesting is the section on "Making it Happen in Your School", in which the editors make a powerful case for specifically addressing emotional learning as a skill area. They tell of the Massachusetts school superintendent who found that "parents and community members were at least as interested in having children living in the community who were kind, caring, and non-violent as they were in having kids who were smart". Every UK headteacher will nod agreement.

There's enormous interest in emotional intelligence and brain-friendly learning, and this book is an excellent contribution to the debate.

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