I am Ruthie Kolb, the new Training Manager at Colorado Youth Matter, and I happy to be joining the team. In my previous career as a high school math teacher, I was once asked at a conference with fellow teachers to brainstorm 5 characteristics we hope students, once they exit our classrooms and the educational system, have to begin adulthood. We responded with strong character attributes, not academic achievements. Sure, we wanted our students to remember what we taught them – to use proper grammar in their cover letters and apply arithmetic to their finances. But in our wildest dreams, we were teaching them something more, something illusive, a little je ne sais quoi. My dream list looked like this:
In fact, despite the difficulties facing researchers to define and measure intangibles, a study at the Virginia Commonwealth University found in 2010 that emotional intelligence was a greater predictor of a person’s working success than their IQ. Formerly, social and emotional intelligences were considered unteachable personality characteristics. People were either born with umpf, people skills, perseverance, and responsibility or they weren’t.
But what if these were not set-in-stone characteristics, but rather trainable skills? What if we could write curricula in such a way that we were directly and indirectly teaching these personal attributes along with reading, writing, and arithmetic? What if, by mixing person-building and academic coursework, the students who formerly struggled academically began improving in all areas of their lives?