Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Charlotte and Karen Repsonse


"Empathy and emotional intelligence: What is it really about" by Ioannidou F.

This article gives us a concrete definition of emotional intelligence: someone’s ability: (a) to understand his feelings, (b) to listen to others and to feel them, and (c) to express his emotions in a productive manner. It goes on to say that consciously recognizing an emotion as it forms is the "corner stone" to emotional intelligence. This article is written in a very "matter-of-fact" fashion, which can be refreshing on such topics that people tend to write off for being too complex or individualized, such as emotions. I agree with most of what is said here, but I am worried by the colloquial use of the word depression in the bullet titled "Controlling our emotions." While it is true that we have the ability to control our emotions, depression is a disease that affects one's ability to do this. By framing this as a mere "choice" rather than a mental disability that inhibits certain people's ability to control their feelings undermines the validity of depression as an illness, something we already struggle with in today's mainstream society.

"Why We Hide Emotional Pain" by Leon F. Seltzer

Interestingly enough, this article highlights a lack of control over feeling emotional pain. It follows that the various forms of emotional pain "refer to feeling or being made to feel." Emphasis on the word "made" implies a certain lack of control as a response to emotional pain rather than an absent skill set. In exploring why people tend to hide their emotional pain, the article makes direct references to masculinity and the expectations it creates for dealing with, or rather not dealing with, emotional vulnerability. This reminded me of the Chapter we read last class for Allie's research. It's interesting to see how sex and gender inform so many of our experiences. What I find most interesting in this article is the paradox of concealing our emotions:

"Perhaps the final irony in all this is that, culturally, it's considered stoical to hold in our more tender emotions. Not to show vulnerability is typically viewed as a strength, a "demonstration" of character. But in reality the major motives in hiding our emotions are (as I've already indicated) fear-based. We're just afraid to look weak or susceptible to others. Paradoxically, though, unashamedly disclosing our vulnerability can actually be a deliberate personal statement of both sensitivity and--yes--courage."

This idea also relates to the fragility of masculinity and how much of our culture is built around this masculine-feminine binary.

"Forget Business School: Why An Emotional Education is Indispensable" by Avid Larizadeh

This piece immediately draws attention to the lack of emphasis on emotional literacy and well-being in our education system. As an academic with Harvard and Stamford on here resume, the author states, "...when faced with life’s personal and professional challenges, I do not find myself relying on the teachings from those institutions as much as I find myself having to draw from my emotional understanding of my environment and of myself." She then goes on to outline the four fundamental attributes of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness, and relationship management. However, when it comes to accessing exactly how one goes about growing and improving these emotional intelligence skills, she falls short, and namely blames it on impossibility. Aside from being raised by emotionally intelligent parents, the author claims, "Until someone opens the University of Emotional Intelligence or creates a curriculum for it, we’re stuck learning exclusively through the School of Life." This, to me, is a bit of a cop out and deserves more thought on the matter.


"How cultures around the world make decisions" by Amy S. Choi

I found this to be an extremely interesting piece of writing. I think I often forget how likely it is that I am reading within the American framework, which this piece attempts to unhinge and inspect. I thought a lot about the idea of choice and freedom of choice when I studied abroad. I found that I enjoyed activities based around decision making much more when I had fewer options, such as food shopping and ordering coffee. However, I can't imagine necessarily having fewer options when it came to choices about how to dress, speak and act. This idea of following the norm and prioritizing belonging that the author describes as part of other cultures such as Japanese and Amish is alarming to me but not because I think individual choice is intrinsic to my sense of self, but because if I practiced the traditional values of my family and where I came from I would be supporting Donald Trump's presidential campaign. For cultures that value things my culture does not, I see the appeal. But American tradition, to me, is a whole lot of racism, xenophobia and nationalism. Fitting into the crowd would be to support corporate business, eat unhealthily, remain complacent on white heteronormativity and uneducated on issues that do not immediately affect me. At the same time, I can see how prioritizing individual choice over harmony with those around you can lead to some issues. Radical individualism will always run the risk of leading to anarchist chaos where our differences tear us apart.

"Classroom Culture" by Teaching Tolerance

This is one of the most extensive guides to creating a truly inclusive, diverse learning environment. While I was already familiar with many of the concepts introduced (active listening and addressing conflict), there were some I had never heard of before that I found particularly interesting, such as zero indifference vs zero tolerance. I think it's really important that students who actively disrupt the safe learning space come to understand how they have done so. So often, when someone is made to feel uncomfortable, the perpetrator fails to take responsibility because their intention was not to cause such emotional discomfort,  and then refuses to reframe the situation to come to a better understanding, likely due to guilt and their own emotional pain. Zero tolerance policy's only deny the student further opportunity to come to a different understanding of their actions by being removed from the situation via suspension, expulsion, ect.  

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