Development of Emotional Intelligence is Best Supported Through Social Groups of Similar Backgrounds.
If students are to develop emotional intelligence, then they need to be supported in a learning environment that is composed of peers and teachers that are bring similar struggles to the mix. In the video, Gay Camp: Helping youth Feel Safe and Supportive, gay youth come together to discuss and share their stories with a group of people from similar backgrounds. Caitlin, a young woman says, "I got a sense of no longer needing to hide in any way." In the video, Who We Be, a "group of young women of color...organize for a safe school environment that doesn't disrespect woman's minds and bodies." Youth like these are developing emotional intelligence together in secure environments and Vygotsky's theory would suggest that this education is effective because learning is taking place in social groups composed of people with similar backgrounds. As teachers we must recognize the need for youth to develop emotional intelligence, and we must recognize that most often the best way for this is in a social setting that is composed of similar people. Often we as teacher cannot relate with a student's particular background (i.e minority woman, or homosexual) and in those cases the least we can the least we can do is support the creation of the social groups in order for the members to learn from each other develop emotionally together.
Feelings of Safety and Acceptance are Primary Concerns that Need to be Addressed Before the Highest Potential of Education may Occur.
If students are to get the most out of their time in school and truly be educated, then teachers need to ensure that Maslow's lower level needs are satisfied for their students. In the video, Bullies, gotta hate em! the young man recounts a "bully" incident at school. By his demeanor it is clear that he has been hurt, and that the experience has negatively affected his education because he is struggling to feel completely accepted at school. In the video, Is Anybody Listening? A testament by Village Academy High, Chris explains that because of the poor economy his family is facing homelessness. He says "I can get out, but my brothers, my brothers might be homeless pretty soon." Maslow's theory argues that students like Chris cannot succeed in school because they are struggling with their most basic needs of safety and security, and they can not "graduate" to the highest levels of learning while they are preoccupied with concerns for their basic needs. As teachers we need to understand what our students are dealing with outside of school. We need to acknowledge each student as an individual and encourage them to express their problems so that they can be supported and hopefully helped to meet their needs or safety and acceptance.
Listening to our Students is the First Step Towards Helping.
If teachers want to help their students the most, then teachers need to take time to learn about a student emotional "baggage" and express to the student that they are willing to help. In the video, Youth Voices, Eric says, "[My teacher], she trying to help me too, she helps me fill out my jobs applications because I tell her I need a job to help out my Dad, and she's like, just do good in school Eric, and I'll always be here to help out." He continues "try to find out like whats going on...give me a chance...try to help us out...like try to figure out what wrong with me." Eric feels supported by this teacher because she has developed what Nel Noddings calls a "caring relationship" with her student. She has expressed concern, and has provided aid that is relevant to Eric's need. She knows that Eric's appreciates her help through his positive feedback. As teachers we need to realize that the only way we can truly help our students is by listening to them. We must "try to figure out whats wrong" and then help them get to where they want and need to be.
Here is the link to the YouTube video compilation entitled: Voices of Youth Today. Here you will find all of the videos i mentioned aboved