Our education system is out-of-date; not enough research drives our instruction, as it does in every other impactful field. Harvard’s Thomas Kane believes that “the problem is that we don’t have any kind of mechanism for connecting [research] to the decisions that [are made]” (Westervelt, 2016). One area of research that is not communicated to the decision makers and, most importantly, the teachers is how emotions influence our learning capabilities.
Neuroscientists have discovered that “emotional processes are required for the skills and knowledge acquired in school to transfer to novel situations and to real life” (Immordino-Yang, 2007). Without the ability to connect with others in a positive manner, decision-making skills are compromised, if present at all. In school, we must teach emotional intelligence so that our students can learn to control their own emotional states by improving their relationships with others.
Neuroscientist and psychobiologist, Jaak Panskepp notes that “our love and our attachment are partially addictive phenomena…they provide us with a sense of security that everything is right in the world” (2014). Students need, and innately want, to learn the skills to make connections with their peers and others they encounter. Their “biology and [their] sociality are completely…intertwined with one another;” the desire to be accepted and feel purposeful in a group is natural and would not be contrived in a classroom (Immordino-Yang, 2011).
Education needs to improve its dissemination of research into the working field better. Teachers can jump-start it by teaching social skills and emotional control in their classrooms every day, starting now.