November 17, 2021

Rector’s eNews – 17 November 2021

/ Rector's eNews

Last week, I began to discuss emotional intelligence and how I believe boarding develops EQ in teenagers. In this regard, an organisation called TalentSmart has outlined several areas of emotional intelligence and how these were evident in much of the Stoic philosophy of classical times. We explored four qualities of those with EQ: firstly, such people tend to be more analytical than their peers and not to form judgements too rapidly; secondly, they are active and discerning listeners; thirdly, they understand how and with whom collaboration is most effective and, lastly, such people have the capacity to focus on the important areas of life and what can be achieved, while discarding what is irrelevant.

The fifth suggestion is that those with high EQ tend to lead themselves: they reflect on and understand how central sound values are to meeting the challenges which arise in their lives and are able to deal with situations with self assurance which, in turn, holds them up as leaders to their peers. Once again, the importance of commitment to the important values in our lives is underlined.

There follows the notion that such people manage their emotions with intent and “put the finishing touches to their lives each day” so that there is an element of satisfaction in tasks and situations completed and resolved. They create the time to consider their actions in the context of the broader issues in life and to enjoy the feeling that they have approached matters in the best and most productive fashion.

The seventh suggestion is that people with high EQ do not dwell too much on criticism: they don’t waste valuable time and energy in taking negative feedback to heart, but distil quickly what needs to be learned from a situation and take that onboard. Their ability to do this may derive from the self-confidence that they have in knowing that they have key values which are central to their modus vivendi.

Lastly, TalentSmart suggests that “tapping into one’s authenticity” makes work memorable, gives it style and makes it more rewarding than it would have been. People with a strong level of emotional intelligence derive satisfaction from within, and essentially not from the approval of others. Marcus Aurelius (Roman Emperor 161-180) said, “It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people but care more about their opinion than our own.”

Boarders develop a high degree of emotional intelligence in most cases in my opinion, or are more likely to do so than day pupils, because they experience more “real life” situations which they need to evaluate and resolve: in a six-man dorm, for example, you may like three of the other boys, be neutral about another and dislike the last one. Nevertheless, a boarder will need to learn to navigate such a situation, to recognise the strengths and weaknesses of peers, and to know how to negotiate with a variety of different personalities. This is the platform for learning about others and understanding them at a deep level, a capacity which forms the basis years later for leadership in every field of endeavour.

Remembrance Sunday has always been a day of great significance at Michaelhouse as so much of what we see around us is a memorial to those who gave selflessly of themselves in past years. For example, the 43 trees which line Warriors Walk were planted to commemorate the 42 boys who fell in World War One and Rector Brown, and the lanterns at the entrance to Screens are there to commemorate the Tatham brothers, both killed in different spheres in the War within three days of each other in July 1916. They have also given their family name to Tatham House.

But we have also moved on and the four cornerstones of my address on Sunday related to loss (which many have suffered over the past year through Covid or for other reasons), brotherhood (which is the essence of Michaelhouse through the ages), respect (of the past and of the present as the school evolves) and remembrance. The service was streamed and also recorded and, if you are interested in viewing it, here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExaPq-WjQ6c

Michaelhouse Remembrance Day Peter Woodland playing The Last Post on Remembrance Day

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