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News & Views - Dec, 1995 Issue #37 

Why it can matter more than IQ 
by: Daniel Goleman 
NY:Bantam Book:October 1995 
review by: Lon Woodbury 

This best selling book is essentially a summary of the latest scientific research on an old subject, the importance of character. As the author puts it on page 285, "There is an old-fashioned word for the body of skills that emotional intelligence represents: character." 

With many references to studies mapping the functioning of the brain, he makes the case that EQ has a greater relationship to people achieving life satisfaction and success than does IQ. Intuitively , this makes a certain amount of sense, especially to professionals working in and with emotional growth schools and programs. Helping young people learn how to "handle frustrations, control emotions and get on with other people" is what these schools and programs are about. A child's failure in these skills is what brings their parents to look for a highly structured placement that is capable of teaching these skills. 

This book can be considered as the latest in a line of thinking over the last few decades that has been challenging what has been referred to as the "Age of Reason." This challenge from what seems to be part of the "post-modernism" construct is that the age of reason had gone to extremes and given us massive bureaucracies, centralized planning, impersonal medicine, and other institutions which have lost the "human touch." Goleman at one point claims that EQ is "what makes us human." To be sure, the reaction to "reason" has its own extreme found in educators who claim it is far more important to help children learn to "express themselves" than it is to help them learn to discipline either their minds or their emotions. Goleman seems to be saying we need a balance between the rational mind and our emotions. He seems to be saying that we are emotional beings, that we should accept and understand what that means, and teach children to control and discipline their unruly emotions. He seems to be saying that this is the ticket to success in life. 

The book has a number of gems, such as a review of the "marshmallow challenge". (Yuichi Shoda, Walter Mischel, and Philip K. Peake, "Predicting Adolescent Cognitive and Self-regulatory Competencies From Preschool Delay of Gratification," Developmental Psychology, 26, 6 (1990)). In this test, four-year-olds were left in a room with a marshmallow, and told if they waited until the experimenter returned, they would get two marshmallows. These children were later tracked down when they were adolescents. Those who had waited for the two marshmallows were compared with those who had grabbed the one. The differences were dramatic. "Those who had resisted temptation at four were now, as adolescents, more socially competent: personally effective, self-assertive, and better able to cope with the frustrations of life."

Or, on page 222, some speculation as to "Why should firmness lead to a reduction in fearfulness?" And, on page 251, a study that indicated "how popular a child was in third grade has been shown to be a better predictor of mental-health problems at age eighteen than anything else...." 

On page 295 the author discusses his conclusions that "the emotional mind is childlike...." i.e. "categorical thinking, where everything is in black and white....", "personalized thinking, with events perceived with a bias centering on oneself....", and "self-confirming, suppressing or ignoring memories or facts that would undermine its beliefs and seizing on those that support it." This description seems to be a good description of the typical student enrolling in emotional growth schools and programs. 

Chapter 16 described how some of the ideas of the author are being carried out in a few day schools. If the author is seriously interested, I could suggest several dozen residential schools and programs which are currently implementing programs for adolescents who would have flunked the marshmallow test, and are now getting a second chance to learn those early lessons. These are the emotional growth schools and programs that is the focus of this newsletter and my Directory, Places for Struggling Teens. 

Copyright 1995, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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