I found an intriguing answer to this question when I made a recent visit to the picturesque seaside city of San Sebastian, capital of Gipuskoako, one of three provinces that make up the Basque area of Spain. San Sebastian also happens to be a world-class center for the development of social and emotional intelligence, due to an ambitious initiative to upgrade these human aptitudes not just in schools, but also in families, communities, and businesses.
Thirty to forty percent of schools there have curricula in social/emotional learning, and more are being phased in. There are emotional intelligence programs for parents and families, even communities. And businesses in the region are incorporating emotional intelligence into their leadership training.
All this has come about largely through the efforts of a visionary leader, Jose Ramon Guridi Urrejola, the Minister for Technology and Innovation of the province. At his behest local scholars, educators, business people and community organizers are setting out to create a socially and emotionally intelligent society. I was impressed by the progress they are making.
The scope of this initiative can be seen in a series of publications issued by the Ministry:
- “Emociones y trabajo,” which focuses on emotional intelligence and work, and in organizations
- “Necesidades socio-emocionales en contextos socio-comunitarios,” which asseses the social and emotional needs of communities and society
- “Emociones y educacion,” fostering social/emotional learning for children in schools, and for family life.
(For those who read Spanish, the books are available at www.igipuzkoa.net.)
When I met Mr. Guridi, he told me that his inspiration had been a question I ask in my book Emotional Intelligence: If emotional literacy is so crucial for a child’s success in life, then why don’t we teach it to every child?
And so Mr. Guridi has followed this insight far beyond my own imagination.
I wonder if there are other parts of the world where similar efforts are underway – if you are aware of any, please let me know, at email@example.com.