Monday, September 16, 2013


Steve Sailer has a piece about training students in Emotional Intelligence based on a recent NYT piece.  He relates it to IQ envy. More interestingly to me, he comments
As far as I can tell, education, from Aesop on down, has always been concerned with instilling character, self control, and wisdom, only now these ancient goals have been rebranded as "emotional intelligence:"
These are what I believe schools actually can teach, and should.  These, and a culture which is both shared and inclusive, and represents what is most central and laudable in a field.  Despite arguments about what that means, and abuses in imposing majority culture rather than Western Civ, of course a culture can be taught.  It's just that the truth steps on people's toes, so they pressure it out. (Left and right both have blind spots, but the current trend of those in education hierarchy is to make so absolutely sure that the bad old right wing blind spots aren't taught that the new left-wing ones are swallowed whole.)

The actual comments of one of the researchers, Marc Brackett aren't quite like that, however.  Leaning on the research that one does worse on tests while anxious, or hungry, or being secretly beaten - gee, that's shocking, eh? - he switches over to the idea that some other things called Emotional Intelligence, such as being able to empathise or intuit, are really the bee's knees in educating the next generation.

I suspect it's all one in their minds, allowing them to gradually drop all the character issues of self-control, conscientiousness, hard work, and self-denial in favor of vague notions of identifying with the unfortunate or how to report bullies. That is what the offered article suggests, at any rate. It is rather like offering a traffic-safety course and spending only 10% time on chemical impairment and speeding and 90% on lobbying government for safer cars.

If any of you know differently, that Emotional Intelligence instruction is actually a clever way to smuggle in the old virtues we can no longer stress quite so strongly, I'd be glad to hear it.


bs king said...

I actually always thought the EQ thing was a play to figure out how to teach values without citing a particular religion.

Also, I've done some stuff with it and it does have it's uses.

Coming from a religious school that did strongly teach "values" but would give little to no effort to actually having kids like, be nicer to one another (or some of the teachers for that matter), I think "values training" can sometimes be very abstract. The EQ stuff I've worked with actually focuses heavily on the in "hey you should understand and empathize with that kid, the one right there that you don't like, it means good things about you long term if you can do that".

I can see where it could be used to be vague and feel goodish crap, but I also think it can be used well.

In case your curious, I use it when I facilitate groups with different profession types. It's helpful for group dynamics because lots of smart people trying to prove who is individually smartest gets nothing done. The EQ focus is much more "if you can stop and listen you'll get more done than you will if you keep talking over everyone". I teach it as basically pragmatic ethics.

james said...

Aspergers. Whatever works to help them learn.

Anonymous said...

I think EQ originated from the old racket of renaming stuff and selling it as your own. Howard Gardner has renamed all the basic personality traits as intelligences with great success. It's the perfect way to criticize the concept of intelligence while sponge off its prestige.