BOOK NEWS AND REVIEWS
Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More than IQ by Daniel Goleman (1995). Bantam: NY.
"Anyone can become angry -- that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way -- this is not easy." Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics (Quoted in the introduction to this book, "Aristotle's Challenge.")
The analysis of the relationship between the intellect and emotions has a long and illustrious history (e.g., Aristotle, Descartes and Kant in philosophy and William James, W. B. Cannon, Stanley Schachter and Albert Bandura in psychology). It is important to study this book in a historical context because many of the author's discussions are closely related to debates that have been raging for hundreds and in some cases, thousands of years. Goleman emphasizes that although cognitive intelligence is very important in determining one's direction in life, it interacts with and is tempered by emotional intelligence. He gives numerous examples of how the lack of high levels of emotional intelligence can lead to failure and underachievement regardless of IQ level. Goleman has written an excellent summary of this field of research that brings together numerous behavioral science and educational studies, news reports, theories and applications. While he does not believe emotional intelligence will replace cognitive intelligence as the primary measurement concept in education, he argues that both concepts should be given similar weight in evaluating and educating children.
The first section of Emotional Intelligence discusses the neurological basis for emotional responses in relation to such brain structures as the limbic system and the amygdala. He shows that we are innately programed to respond to threatening situations in a manner that produces fright, defensive reactions and avoidance behaviors. In this physiological model, a person's emotional intelligence will be related to how effectively he or she deals with these automatic changes in the nervous system. Goleman discusses how family background and education can affect whether one: (1) panics and is unable to function effectively in high pressure situations ; or (2) takes control by using the emotions positively. By following his discussion to its logical conclusion, it is obvious that parents and educators must nurture children's emotional intelligence as well as various cognitive abilities. In this regard, Goleman has been greatly influenced by Howard Gardner's research and writing on Multiple Intelligences. He discusses how the concept of emotional intelligence is closely related to Interpersonal and Intrapersonal abilities. According to Goleman, the difference between Gardner's theory and his are as follows: Gardner studies how cognitive processes interpret and guide emotions (metacognition) while Goleman studies emotions in their basic forms before they are influenced by more rational processes. This distinction is important because educators can teach children to: (1) analyze their emotions by using different types of reasoning techniques; or (2) become more aware of their emotional responses through learning about pre-wired neurological processes in order to control them in a positive manner. Of course, the ideal program in emotional education should combine both approaches.
In the latter part of this book, Goleman discusses the role of the emotions in marriage, the management of organizations and physical health. He provides many useful examples of how positive emotions can be developed to successfully deal with these important areas of life. The final chapter, "Schooling the Emotions," describes a model educational program at Nueva Learning Center in San Francisco. This program, Self Science, illustrates the major ideas presented in this book regarding emotional literacy, i.e., using well-designed interventions related to specific emotional problems such as aggression and depression. This curriculum and those in Seattle and New Haven help children to build core skills for dealing with these and other self-destructive emotions. Although Goleman would like schools to have specific courses in emotional literacy, he realizes that the best approach for most school districts is to blend emotional training into the regular course of studies.
This book provides information that teachers can use to design emotional training in differentiated programs. Of equal importance, it can help gifted children to understand the neurological foundations of emotional responses, particularly the short circuiting that occurs when sensory stimuli bypass the cognitive areas of the brain and directly impact on the emotional areas (amygdala). Television and cinema producers have become experts at eliciting these short circuited emotional responses from young viewers -- obviously, these media gurus have extensive knowledge of the applied psychology of emotions. By encouraging the development of emotional literacy, Goleman's book will help gifted children to respond in a more emotionally balanced and critical manner to these and other potentially stressful factors in the school, society and home.
Educator's World Wide Web Tourguide: A Graphical Tour of Over 200 Educational Treasures on the World Wide Web (1995) by Classroom Connect (1866 Colonial Village Lane: Lancaster, PA 17601: 717-393-1000).
This stimulating resource includes a book that describes over 200 Web sites and a CD-ROM that allows students to connect directly to them by using Netscape or a similar Web Browser. This is an astounding collection of educational resources that demonstrates the wide range of learning opportunities available on the World Wide Web (WWW). By using the CD-ROM, the gifted student will be able to select WWW Home Pages in such areas as art, business, English/literature, foreign language, geography, history, mathematics, science and social sciences/humanities. The book also includes a chapter on questions and answers about the World Wide Web and a glossary of terms.
Examples of the art Web sites are: Ansel Adams, Art History Via ArtServe, Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture Exhibit, and The Louvre. These electronic displays originate directly from the museums, e.g., The Louvre Web site was designed by the staff of this world renowned museum. The English/Literature section includes Web sites concerned with Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, Complete Works of Shakespeare, Project Gutenberg, and Teaching The American Literatures Archive. In contrast, the science section contains sites on the Apollo 11 Mission to the Moon, DNA to Dinosaurs, The Franklin Institute Science Museum, and Yahoo's Index of Science Resources. We highly recommend this book and CD-ROM from Classroom Connect because it effectively demonstrates many of the available Internet resources for providing multi-media education to gifted students.
GIFTEDNESS AS REPRESENTED THROUGH AN ARRAY OF 19TH CENTURY BRITISH WOMEN WRITERS BY MICHAEL E. WALTERS NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
"In fact, the world is full of hopeful analogies and handsome dubious eggs called possibilities." From Middlemarch by George Eliot, p. 74, Chapter 10 (Bantam Books).
The contemporary gifted field is concerned with the concept of self-esteem. However, the trait that gifted individuals seek to attain is self-actualization, not self-esteem. The major contribution of Abraham Maslow to American psychology was his emphasis on the normal or super-normal individual as the criterion of human development. Prior to Maslow, studies of abnormal psychology were used as indicators of the dynamics of human personality. The self-actualizing individual is one who is striving to perform and achieve full cognitive and creative potential. These individuals also possess to a larger extent, more holistic and personal constructs -- they function at the higher levels of the cognitive and emotive realms.
In the 19th century, England produced a startling array of women who were literary self-actualizers. They included Jane Austen (1775-1817), Charlotte Brontė (1816-55), Emily Brontė (1820-49), Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-61), and George Eliot (1819-80). They wrote creative masterpieces that have become a part of the literary imagination of the English speaking world. Examples of these masterpieces are: Pride and Prejudice (1813) by Jane Austen, Jane Eyre (1847) by Charlotte Brontė, Wuthering Heights (1847) by Emily Brontė, Sonnets from the Portuguese (1850) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Middlemarch (1872) by George Eliot. Besides the novels themselves, it is especially their style and characters that linger in our psyches. They have had a major impact on both English and world literature.
It is important for those in the gifted field to study the lives and literature of these great women writers, not only for insights into the development of gifted women but also for understanding giftedness in general. What stands out in all of their books is their high levels of sensibility. Despite their lack of formal higher learning, they were all self-educated individuals. All of them were artistically creative at an early age, e.g., Jane Austen wrote her great novels in her early twenties. There is abundant evidence that they were intellectually acute and curious early in their life, e.g., Elizabeth Barrett Browning learned Latin and Greek at home before she was twelve years old. All of them were serious linguists, e.g., George Eliot was one of the most important translators of German into English. She translated such philosophical works as Ludwig Feuerbach's The Essence of Christianity (1841) which had a major influence on Christian ethics. All of them were social critics and keenly analytical (in their novels) concerning such issues as feminism, and the role of class and religious bigotry in their society.
They are important models for gifted students and represent how the gifted sensibility transcends the social parameters of gender and class. Their self-esteem derived from the process of self-actualization as expressed through the creative and human spirit.
Maurice D. Fisher, Publisher, Copyright © by Gifted Education Press, Dec. 1995-Jan. 1996