Holistic education can hone EQ

IQ VS EQ

Holistic education can hone EQ

The walking encyclopedia may be a vault of knowledge, but what is the use of that if he or she cannot handle situations with common sense, presence of mind and decision making skills, says Heera Nawaz

While I was studying in the 3rd grade in the UN International School in New York, there were two girls in the school, Cordelia and Upinder, who were like mercury. They were enthusiastic, full of energy and never still for a moment. During the lunch break, they could sense that many students who were from different nationalities and diverse cultures were finding it difficult to mix with the others. For some of them, it was because of language problems, for others it was due to their introverted and shy personalities. Many others were simply overwhelmed, overawed and floored by white skin Americans who were the predominant ones in this school.

These two girls, who were leaders in their own right, decided to break the ice on their own initiative. They organised games — not complex or difficult games to understand — and got the shy and withdrawn boys and girls to lead so as to enable them to come out of their shells. They saw to it that no one felt “left out” or “like a fish out of water”. Their enthusiasm was contagious, and they left no stone unturned to see that everyone had a good time, and learnt something new from the children of other nationalities.

Is it too difficult then to imagine that these two girls are now grown women holding responsible posts as dignitaries? Yes, it was their EQ (or emotional quotient) that helped them all the way.

What I am getting at here is that yes, studies, marks, percentages, points, scholastic brilliance and IQ ratings are important, but what is decidedly more important in the long run is a consistent EQ. The “walking encyclopedia” may be a vault of knowledge, but what is the use of that if he/she cannot handle situations with common sense, presence of mind and apt decision making skills?

Can EQ be harnessed?

Although there are many ways of harnessing an equitable EQ, a holistic type of education is definitely one of the best ways.  What this implies is that schools worth their salt should focus on their pupils becoming well-rounded individuals rather than mere “mug pots” (as we used to call them in school).

International schools have a reputation for giving this kind of holistic education where the focus is not just on studies and IQ but also on EQ. For this, education experts have included activities like horse riding, swimming, gymnastics, music and dance, art and craft, computer training, and games like badminton, tennis, cricket and basketball, in the school curriculum. There are not only events that celebrate scholastic achievements, but also those that focus on sportsmanship, best all-rounders, and expertise in cultural activities, like dance and drama.

Residential students have special hours to partake in vigorous, energetic games, for it is well known that any physical activity activates one’s endorphins, making one feel good and behave in a more balanced way.

Such activities can produce an equitable EQ and even a sportsman-like attitude that sitting with books cannot.  Schools that provide a holistic education where the focus is on EQ, do not focus on too much of specialisation. As one teacher put it, “Nowadays in some schools, the focus is very much on being specific and going deep in one particular area.
However, it is more practical at the school level to impart a holistic education. There are some specialist physicians for the left nostril and some for the right nostril! Instead, a general physician is more in a position to understand the other organs better, and, how one organ reacts can be discerned by an overall holistic understanding of the other organs. This is the same with education. At the school level, education must necessarily be holistic, where one hones one’s EQ to be a balanced, practical human being with life skills.”

Since holistic education denotes that people should not just focus on IQ alone, but that it should be combined with an equitable EQ, is it possible for people to possess both? There are rare individuals who are highly motivated and successful careerists, too, like our former President, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. Indeed, a holistic education, can help in tapping  every vestige of potential, honing one’s talents and maintaining an equitable attitude. And if one does that, one will be well on the path of producing students of the caliber of my two former classmates, Cordelia and Upinder.

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