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Educating People to be Emotionally Intelligent provides an expansive overview of emotional intelligence ("EI"), anchored firmly in the bedrock of extant research, theory, and practice relating to EI. The text has been constructed expertly by a triad of distinguished editors (Reuven Bar-On is the Director of EI Research in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, at the University of Texas Medical Branch; J.G. Maree is a Professor of Education, at Pretoria University; and Maurice Jesse Elias is a Professor in the Psychology Department, at Rutgers University) working closely in tandem with a bevy of professionally accomplished intellectual artisans with expertise relevant to EI. Although the stylistic and substantive abstruseness of the text ill suits the lay reader, the cascade of information pouring forth copiously from the text's pages should help slake, if not fully quench, the thirst of researchers, theorists, and practitioners aspiring to heightened knowledge and understanding with regard to educating people to be emotionally intelligent.
Structurally, the reader is introduced to the subject of EI by means of a two part exordium in the forms of a "Foreword" (opening the door to the realm of EI), and a structural section titled "What This Book Is About" (which roughly sketches some of the features of EI to be etched in far greater detail in the twenty chapters that follow). The respective chapters characteristically commence with a terse "Introduction" engaging of readers' interest, and end with a succinctly informative "Conclusion". Multitudinous references materially enhance the text's didactic strength, and are a conduit connecting inquisitive readers to further study of EI. The text's academic worth is enhanced additionally by a goodly number of instructive "tables" as well as some well designed "figures".
A very important lesson imparted by the contributors to this masterful work is that the multifarious research strands presently enmeshing EI are associated with a plethora of knottily tied concerns not likely to be unraveled absent further extensive investigative effort.
In highly edifying fashion, the book's contributors informatively identify and scrutinize many of the sorely tied concerns entwined with EI.
In the first instance, the mere defining of EI is problematic. Conceptualizations of EI are diffuse. And the at least arguable nebulousness enshrouding EI begs the question: What, exactly, is "emotional intelligence"? And what are its key defining properties? Are there suitable instruments for measuring EI reliably? How tightly is EI bound to scientifically measurable assessments? Is EI different from "cognitive intelligence"? Is EI governed importantly by particular elements of the neural circuitry?
Other thorny questions, abounding in the issue laden soil of EI, garner the rapt attention of the book's contributors. For example, is EI associated with success in particular areas? If so, in what areas? And does EI have relatively greater importance than cognitive ability with respect to success in particular areas? What is the relationship between EI and performance? Does EI effectually complement cognitive intelligence so as to optimize, or at least improve, performance? Can EI be enhanced? If so, is the enhancing of EI a possibly effective treatment for persons suffering from severe psychiatric disorders? Can EI be enhanced efficaciously by means of "coaching"? Also, how good is the science underpinning present efforts to educate people to be emotionally intelligent? To what degree is the research foundation supporting social emotional learning evidence based (rather than anecdotal in nature)?
This excellently written book plainly reveals the salient need for further studies structured well to fill existing gaps in research knowledge in the deeply fissured field of EI.
Substantively, the text spans a wide ranging panorama of issues tied to EI. For instance, emotionally intelligent parenting conducive to the fostering of emotional and social competencies in children is examined instructively in Chapter Three. The crux of Chapter Four is how schools can work in harmony with families so as to promote the social, emotional, and academic skills of children. Further discerning attention is drawn (in Chapter Seven) to social, emotional, and academic competence by expertly scrutinizing the so called School Development Program model. With intellectual syringe sturdily in hand, the contributors to Chapter Nine take on the task of injecting a two stage process for social emotional learning into the corpus of a school district.
The substantive emphasis of several chapters is on EI as it may impact performance and productivity. An important thematic message pervading the discourse of Chapter Eleven's contributor is that EI competencies can be developed, and the developing of EI competencies may very positively affect a person's performance. In Chapter Thirteen, there is a sharp focus on "coaching" as a way to enhance EI and increase personal performance and organizational productivity.
The relationship between EI and health forms the cynosure of several of the chapters. In the view of the contributors to Chapter Fifteen, growing research awareness of links interconnecting health and the personality construct called alexithymia provides a basis to educate people to be emotionally intelligent. At the substantive core of Chapter Sixteen is perspicacious comment on possible applications of EI to the treatment of persons suffering from severe psychiatric disorders.
In penultimate Chapter Nineteen, evidence is reviewed pertinent to embellished understanding of neuroanatomy as it appertains to EI.
The respective contributors to this superbly crafted text are to be commended for deftly painting a revealing picture of EI. Their skilled efforts may be a springboard to further study of EI. Professionals in the mental health field, enveloping psychiatrists, neurologists, psychologists, neuroscientists, and behavioral scientists, should derive great intellectual profit from a close reading of this enriching text. Additionally, persons attached professionally to the field of education, including teachers, special education teachers, school administrators, and school principals, will very likely be quite enlightened by a careful perusal of the book's illumining contents.
© 2008 Leo Uzych
Leo Uzych (based in Wallingford, PA) earned a law degree, from Temple University; and a master of public health degree, from Columbia University. His area of special professional interest is healthcare.
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