The answer is “yes,” according to a growing body of research that shows emotionally skilled people not only do better academically, but enjoy better relationships, and are less likely to develop unhealthy, risk-taking behaviors.
Here in America, more educators are arguing in favor of adding meditation, or “mindfulness” to the national curriculum. It’s an initiative to understand potential positive impacts mindfulness can have on grades, mood, and ability to self-regulate.
Emotional Intelligence in the Digital Age
Mindfulness in academics can have positive impacts on students from teaching them “soft-skills” that will have lasting impacts on their job futures, to better performance on grades, or increased attention spans. However, it can have a paramount influence on the way they interact in the digital age. There is a growing need to teach students how to interact with emotional intelligence in the digital space. Mindfulness can benefit the way students interact with each other online, discern information, and self-regulate emotions in regards to online content.
Our children's immersion in social media is believed to be contributing to an epidemic of anxiety
Other studies have focused on the social benefits of teaching empathy—or the skill of experiencing imaginatively what another person is feeling. Fears that our children’s increasingly digital lives may be eroding the development of empathy have added urgency to such research.
Teaching empathy—assuming it can be taught—may be the single greatest weapon in the fight against cyberbullying, trolling, and other forms of online abuse.
The RULER approach
One curriculum that has gained a following in US schools is the RULER program developed by researchers at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. The name is an acronym of the program’s goals:
Recognize emotions in oneself and others
Understand the causes and consequences of emotions
Label emotional experiences accurately
Regulate emotions in ways that promote growth.
The lessons of RULER are then integrated throughout all subject areas. For instance, if the emotional vocabulary word “elated” is discussed, it might be linked to the first time man walked on the moon in 1969 in a history class or to Archimedes’ discovery of the displacement principle in science.
Did Archimedes really shout "Eureka!" in his bathtub upon discovering the law of buoyancy? Possibly not - but the discovery would certainly have elated him :)
Power of Mindfulness
Teachers at the Momentous Institute in Texas are teaching emotional awareness by embedding mindful practices, like breathing and controlling the body into their daily lesson plans for kids as young as four years old. Students learn how to use breath as an anchor, and other impulse control mechanisms. Their goal is to equip students with strong skills to become change-makers in their communities
There is a growing favor of expanding these programs in the U.S. and testing the implications they have and assessing the role it can have in public education in the U.S.
No matter what, there is a need to be continuously evolving teaching practices as it pertains to the wellbeing of our youth. As we see increasing development in this digital age it is important to continue to equip with the necessary skills to be a good citizen in both the real and digital world.