Reading an article on the training of military officers, I noted that “we now know” that the emotional and cognitive spheres are linked and even intertwined. Whereas in the past, emotional denoted irrationality, we know it to be, after all the research is in, a critical part of rational functioning.
My response? No, duh.
For as long as I can remember, my friends and I have noted how emotional immaturity and blocks interfere with people’s functioning. It has always been obvious. Who needs research, although that’s nice, to recognize this obvious truth? Perhaps that’s why so many of us tilted East as we passed through high school and college – we found that the East seemed not to divide life artificially.
For my part, I always noticed how people who insisted on a rigid division between the emotions and thinking were what we called engineer types: people who believed that life should be approached only through what they called logic and reason, only on examination, their logic and reason turned out to be emotional filters. There were messy things about life that truly bothered and upset them and they wanted to keep them at bay. Sadly for them, child rearing, marriage, friendship, civic involvement, and so many other areas of life demanded an emotional maturity that they had never developed due to their avoidance of emotion.
Please. I remember those people only too well, growing up, attending school, working. Rigid and perfectionist, snobby and snotty, secure in their attachment to “reason”, and imbued with a deep sense of superiority, they marched through life like the automotons they so much admired. Conversation with them was not a delight.
Right after writing this, I got into an in-depth discussion with my wife and daughter about emotional intelligence. This is at the top of my agenda due to the acute suffering of my grandchild stemming from several interconnected disorders. Providing a calm, safe environment for him is uppermost in my mind and since he and his brother and mom and dad have been living with us for a couple of years now and may continue to do so, I finally decided to impose my regimen on the household.
I won’t go into details so as to respect their privacy, but we had a long discussion about how we handle frustration, anxiety, anger, resentment, domination, subordination, crises, and so on. The usual route is to discuss emotional maturity, certainly a big factor. But we also should introduce emotional intelligence, i.e. the ability to allow emotions their proper role without abandoning the role of intelligent guiding and to allow intelligence, reason, rationality their proper role without suppressing our emotions.
What I’ve seen in the classroom is teachers distorting functional procedures and practices in order to deal with their emotional conditions. We’ve all seen the overly neat and precise teacher, the angry teacher, the control freak, the lacksadaisical teacher, the overly friendly, palsy-walsy teacher, the emotionally distant teacher, and so on. We cannot demand that teachers not have their own personalities but we do have to question just how much they can indulge their emotional make-up before that starts interfering with affective and effective teaching.