November 10, 2021

Rector’s eNews – 10 November 2021

/ Rector's eNews

Having been associated with a combination of boarding and day schools over the last number of years, I have little doubt that one of the areas in which boarders develop in a much more sustained way in comparison with day pupils during their time at school is in the realm of emotional intelligence (EQ). Being in a situation in which you constantly have to “read” people enhances your capacity to understand the driving forces behind others and allows for an intuitive development of an understanding of humanity. This understanding is, I believe, a critical feature of success in any sphere of leadership in later years. Boys and girls who are boarders are not necessarily aware that they are developing in terms of their emotional intelligence in their teenage years but, as they enter their twenties and later on in their lives, they will often reflect on the advantage which they have over a number of their peers who have not had the boarding experience. A number of people have expressed a conviction to me that much of what they learned about people was a result of the opportunities which they had had in a boarding context.

What sort of things then might they be learning? According to a recent publication by TalentSmart, a recently established organisation which advances the interest of young people, emotional intelligence is evident in eight different arenas. I will focus on just four of these this week and conclude with the other four in the eNews next week. And it is interesting that these qualities can be linked to the Stoic philosophy of classical times based on reason, self-restraint and understanding one’s fate.

The first suggestion is that a mark of a person with EQ is that he/she would not jump to conclusions based on emotions. In a society in which we can be very quick to form judgements on issues, a person with EQ would be likely to assess a situation more carefully than his/her counterparts and approach new situations with a view to there being much to learn and to establish. In other words, such a person would not be fooled into jumping to conclusions based on emotions, but tend to be more analytical and perhaps a little sceptical of situations before them.

The second quality relates to people engaging in active listening, stepping into other peoples’ shoes and having the capacity to understand at a deep level what people are saying, rather than only hearing part of what people are suggesting. The thought is that it is not only the words that people use which allow others to form a view of their intent, but that the way they make certain statements and argue a point is also entirely relevant to an understanding of that intent. The Greek Philosopher, Epictetus, spoke of holding the opinion up to the light and examining all aspects of it.

Thirdly, it is suggested that those with high levels of EQ understand the power that is entailed in collaboration. There are countless examples of the phenomenon that 1+1 can equal 3. It is a well-worked idea that synergy between people can produce much more than could be expected. However, an added dimension to the mathematical outcome is that there are certain people with whom cooperative undertakings really do lead to enhanced outcomes and others where success will not be as likely to be achieved. In other words, collaboration with specific people creates a much greater chance of successful outcomes than with “the norm”. Those with EQ understand this.

A fourth area for consideration is that those with higher levels of emotional intelligence have the capacity to focus on what can be achieved and done and to discard areas of irrelevance. Such people can instinctively hone in on the nub of an issue and make a situation in which other people are involved work for them because of their focus.

I find the above interesting and, though I am not suggesting that day pupils are unlikely develop emotional intelligence, I have simply seen a lot more evidence of this amongst boarders over the years than their counterparts in day schools. I will come back to you, as suggested above, with the other four characteristics and qualities outlined by TalentSmart next week.

In the realm of sport, there was an extraordinary performance by our 1st XI Cricket Captain and KZN Inland representative, Adrien Fisher. In the 1st XI match against Kearsney, Adrien amassed 170 in the course of a 50 over innings. Whilst he scored a double century when he was first at Michaelhouse – an unusual feat in itself, we believe this is the second highest individual score ever made by a Michaelhouse boy in a 1st XI match. Scouring old Chronicles, it is evident that Alan Melville, the famous South African opening batsman, made 162* in 1929 and then Ryan Cotterell made 186 in 1999, but we cannot find evidence of anybody else who has come close to achieving such a score in a 1st XI match. Perhaps there may be some Old Boys out there who would like to lay claim to this feat? In any event, congratulations to Adrien on a brilliant innings.

Adrien Fisher scores 170 for Michaelhouse

Adrien Fisher after his magnificent innings with the bat

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