Emotional Intelligence and empathy

Emotional Intelligence and empathy In an earlier post about Emotional Intelligence and marshmallows I referred to the findings of a Demos think-tank report which reported on an increase in social mobility between the end of WW2 and the 1970s followed by a period of stagnation up to 2000.

Amongst the three traits that were most important for children to improve their social lot was empathy – the ability to be sensitive to other people, to read their emotions and understand non-verb … Read More

via EI 4u with permission

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What every child needs

The nature v nurture argument is probably best thought of as an agricultural model: your genes are the seed with the potential to flourish providing you have good soil, nutrition, and a supportive environment.

Much of the nature – nurture research has centred on twins separated at birth or comparing identical and non-identical twins. J McFadden’s article in the Guardian (10 July 2010) reports on new twins research from  Florida State University on reading ability which has added a new angle. They have assessed the teachers as well by comparing changes in grade averages for everyone in that teacher’s class.

They discovered that the differences in reading ability between identical and non-identical twins was greatest in classes with good teachers.

So if you have a good teacher your genes  will make a difference. With poorer teachers the differences were less pronounced because it was the environment rather than the genes which had the most influence.

In other words good teachers get the best from pupils whereas poor ones allow the child’s backgrounds to affect their performance. Jeanette Taylor, the author of the study, said; “Better teachers provide an environment that allows children to reach their potential“.

I wrote in an earlier posting about how we now know from geneticists that excellence is not just down to genes but the effects of the environment which can modify their impact; “Practice makes perfect...”. So whether it’s teachers or coaches, good ones make a real difference.

So just how wrong-headed were Zenna Atkins’ remarks last week about every school needing incompetent teachers? Her widely reported remarks in the Sunday papers, for example, received well-deserved criticism from just about everyone.

Ofsted, the supposed champions of educational standards is prepared to put up with 17,ooo sub-standard teachers, it’s soon-to-be departing chairman makes ill-informed remarks, and the General Teaching Council has only removed 18 bad teachers in 10 years.

Due in part to lack of leadership in head-teachers who prefer to give them references and let them move on (and for which they should be sued by the receiving schools) rather than manage their performance.

So where is the leadership needed to ensure children get the education they deserve and we need as a country?

Originally posted on EI 4u July 2010

Get smart – get more sleep!

According to Arianna Huffington, author and syndicated columnist, there is only one thing you need to do to be more creative at work and enjoy better health – get more sleep.

In her short presentation to a TEDwomen audience in December 2010 she pithily and wittily sets out her arguments and makes sense.

She said she recognised that she was talking to an audience of Type A females but the kind of work addiction, or extreme working, she refers to is common to both men and women with a subsequent lack of sleep.

She urges them to forgo “sleep deprivation one-upmanship” , work smarter not harder, and not brag so much about how many hours they are putting in. She jokes that women really could “sleep their way to the top”.

Sleep deprivation seems almost universal in the Western economies. Adults are short of sleep and increasingly so are children. So let’s follow her advice for 2011 and not succumb to those early breakfast meetings.

Personally I hate breakfast meetings because I know I am not at my best early in the morning (See Are you a lark or an owl”).

I once worked for a CEO who wanted to bring the weekly management team meeting forward from 0900 to 0730. Most of us lived at leat an hour’s drive away but everyone was nodding in agreement, probably not wanting to be seen as wimps, until a consultant put her foot down and said she couldn’t as she had her horses to feed.

Let’s all find horses to feed!