COMPONENTS OF HOLISTIC LEARNING
By Dave Till and Christine Lines
This is the fourth article in our series on Holistic Learning, to read the introduction and view the other components to follow please click here.
4. Emotional Awareness
In 1995, Daniel Goleman, author and science reporter, published his now well known book, “Emotional Intelligence”, five years after reading an article in a small academic journal by two psychologists, John Mayer and Peter Salovey.
Mayer and Salovey offered the first formulation of a concept they called “emotional intelligence”. Holistic educators categorised this learning as “EQ” and the phrase is now part of everyday language, along with “IQ”, previously the standard of intelligence.
In the early years of the Findhorn Foundation (FF), the focus was on action rather than emotion, however today in work departments within the Foundation there is the opportunity for people to share their feelings during a brief check-in at the beginning of each shift and develop their EQ.
Feelings are valued. Sharing is an important component of the essential FF programmes such as Experience Week and other FF workshops, and personal development / human potential workshops all over the planet.
During my Experience Week in April 2009, I sat in the sharing circle on the first day and listened to one of the co-focalisers share about his life. I was in awe of the depth shared and became aware of new possibilities of open communication, also sensing encouragement to share in a similar way.
It was made clear that this was a space for others to simply listen attentively, with open hearts and open minds, without feedback or interruption, and this felt like a beautiful and new experience. Sharing is such a frequent aspect of community life, in work departments, meetings and peer groups, that I now contemplate the reasons why?
Sharing encourages authenticity and deeper connection with both ourselves and others. By expressing the shadow we can more fully embrace the light, become more whole, and develop greater compassion and empathy.
Emotional awareness is a huge area of holistic learning and no group can be fully functioning unless it makes room for the emotional level. Learning improves greatly when feelings are addressed and participants feel safe, accepted, encouraged and appreciated.
The Transformation Game®, developed originally by Joy Drake and Kathy Tyler at the Findhorn Foundation in the 1970’s, evolved from workshops into a box version of the Game and is a great tool for developing emotional awareness. The players move through four levels; physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, recognising the importance of each one.
The Game offers players the opportunity to consciously explore these different aspects of themselves, to learn about feelings, recognise patterns of behaviour and potentially break through to new levels of awareness.
Creating a support network is important as exploring emotions can be a slow and painful process. Constellation Work is one of the many tools that can follow on from the Game of Transformation.
Techniques of catharsis also need to be available to anyone engaged in holistic learning. Bashing cushions, yelling in sound proofed rooms, ‘acting into’ emotions, pushing, holding etc. can all be used. There are many techniques, and disciplines like co-counselling have a particularly good repertoire.
Daniel Goleman writes that the most gratifying aspect of his work with emotional intelligence “has been how ardently the concept has been embraced by educators, in the form of programs in “social and emotional learning” or SEL.”
“Back in 1995 I was able to find only a handful of such programs teaching emotional intelligence skills to children. Now, a decade later, thousands of schools worldwide offer children SEL. In the United States many states currently make SEL curriculum requirement, mandating that just as students must attain a certain level of competence in math and language, so too should they master these essential skills for living.”
Until SEL is practiced in every school, at every level, the need for Holistic Centres offering programmes and workshops for adults to explore emotions and develop communication skills, such as Non Violent Communication, is huge. How amazing would it be to learn the fundamental skills throughout childhood that Goleman explains are offered in in Illinois, for instance.
“Specific learning standards in SEL abilities have been established for every grade from kindergarten through the last year of high school. In the early elementary years students should learn to recognize and accurately label their emotions and how they lead them to act. By the late elementary years lessons in empathy should make children able to identify the nonverbal clues to how someone else feels; in junior high they should be able to analyze what creates stress for them or what motivates their best performance. And in high school the SEL skills include listening and talking in ways that resolve conflicts instead of escalating them and negotiating for win-win solutions.”
A third Q Spiritual intelligence (SQ) is now also becoming more mainstream, based on collective evidence, as a term used to indicate a spiritual correlate to IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and EQ (Emotional Quotient).
Dana Zohar, quantum physicist, philosopher and author, lists 9 characteristics of SQ and includes the importance of being holistic, i.e. seeing the connections between things. Being open to and interested in EVERYTHING.
Each week we will introduce a new topic. Please feel free to add your views and comments to expand on it more fully.
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