Opinion: Emotional intelligence is important for all

Megan Keane, Columnist

I know some people that are really bitter about having to learn algebraic formulas instead of being taught how to do taxes. I’m mad about that too, but I’m also mad that skills like emotional intelligence aren’t taught. Why aren’t life skills and coping mechanisms taught to us? Wouldn’t we be better functioning adults? Education majors, explain!

The ability to be emotionally intelligent involves identifying and managing our emotions—something a lot of people struggle with. That’s why we’re all so maladjusted and borderline alcoholic.

I get it: emotional intelligence is kind of abstract. Pedagogically speaking, I’m not sure how you’d go about teaching emotional health. Meaning: I’m not sure how it would be implemented in curriculum and I’m not sure how receptive students would be to it, but I think it needs to happen.

All of our thoughts are kind of abstract, if you think about it.  Even “concrete” thoughts aren’t concrete. Think of a tree. That’s pretty concrete, but the tree you think of is probably different than my tree. We all have our own schemas that we tap into to make sense of the world around us, so even if you think you know the tree I want you to picture, you can’t. See? That’s abstract. It’s tough to follow. Perhaps it’s even gibberish.

Why didn’t any class ever tell me that feelings will pass? Just that little “JSYK” would’ve been so helpful to little Megan. Why weren’t we taught how to properly cope? We all have coping mechanisms, but most of them aren’t healthy. Food, sex, drugs, self-mutilation, denial, repression and regression: I’m painting a pretty bleak picture, but those are some of our realities. Some of us frantically chomp ice and annoy everyone around us. No? Is it just me? Okay. You get what I’m saying.

I know that I personally could’ve benefitted from some emotional intelligence. Maybe it would’ve kept me from shutting down. Which, I still do, like all the time. One of my high school teachers one time told me that I should channel my nervous energy into something else. So I do. I still use that skill. It was very helpful, but can you imagine how functional I would be if I’d been taught what to do with all of my emotions? I’d be unstoppable!

Everybody has those moments where you think a certain feeling will never go away or that it has power over you—why didn’t anyone prepare us for that? Our emotional health is directly connected to our overall wellbeing. So, then, why aren’t we taught these skills?

I’m not saying that tapping into our emotions, being able to identify and thus manage them, would fix all of our problems—but I’m also saying that some emotional intelligence would do us good.

Megan Keane is an English and psychology major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]