Tony Wagner, Harvard professor and author of Creating Innovators, recently asked, “We no longer have to go to school to acquire knowledge – so what’s school for?” Thirty years ago, teachers challenged students to write a paper with five cited sources. Today the difficulty is narrowing it down to five. Information is everywhere – now students need to learn to create meaning, which requires a much different skill set.
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What do future leaders need?
While there are many opinions, a trend is emerging around the value of skills for being self-aware, collaborating with others, and creating new possibilities. While traditional intellect remains important, these skills require a new form of insight into self and others, a capability called “emotional intelligence".
There’s no conflict between “basic education” and “educating the heart.” Numerous research studies show that developing emotional intelligence ALSO improves academic achievement – and life success.
Anabel Jensen says, “We teach what we are, and we are what we teach.” This means that the first step to teaching emotional intelligence is to practice the skills ourselves – as teachers, parents, community leaders, friends, concerned citizens.
Six Seconds, the nonprofit organization organizing the NexusEQ Conference, teaches that emotional intelligence can be activated with a simple three step process:Increase awareness. Notice your feelings and reactions.Increase choice. Pause and consider options. Respond instead of reacting.Increase purpose. Pay attention to what’s truly important in the situation.
To put this process into action, Six Seconds has identified eight specific, learnable, measurable competencies. Emotional intelligence skills include self-awareness, consequential thinking, optimism, and empathy.
In Six Seconds’ work, these are assessed with a tool called the SEI, Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Assessment, which is available for children and adults. The organization also publishes curriculum for students, workshops for parents, and training programs for teachers and business people.