Tony Gurr

Posts Tagged ‘EQ’

Emotional Literacy for Educators – the 12-step programme!

In Adult Educators, Classroom Teaching, Educational Leadership on 05/04/2012 at 10:45 am

In a recent post I talked about the idea of Emotional Literacy – one of the core human literacies that drive great TEACHing and also great educational leadership.

Some people call it Emotional Intelligence (EQ or EI), educational leaders often use the term “Conscious Leadership” – I prefer to think of it as the “people STUFF” in LEARNing and TEACHing.

Call it what you will…it is here to stay! And, as a concept, it is attracting more and more interest in education as we all get to grips with balancing the “digital literacies” (and fluencies) of the 21st Century with the “human literacies” that are the very foundation of good LEARNing and TEACHing.

In an earlier post, I told you that Tom Peters believes that the world today needs “leaders” who:

OK , I might re-name that 6th one – “LEARN, LEARN, LEARN”!

You know me so well…


For me, all TEACHers are LEADersand Uncle Tom puts his finger on all the major elements that TEACHer LEADers (and their school LEADers) really need to emphasise as they work with 21st Century students. If we do not walk-the-talk, how can we expect our students to even LEARN the talklet alone “walk” it!

The internet is today awash with advice for 21st Century Educational Leaders – these leaders are not only 21st Century Learning Specialists, they are also:

These ideas are also reflected in the work of educators like Marcy Shankman and Scott Allen – who believe that all leaders (and there are many all over our schools and colleges) need to think more about their own “consciousness”:


…if we are to do the same with our LEARNers!


This notion of Conscious Leadership has also been around for some time.

Deepak Chopra tells us we are beginning to see, thanks to information technology (those damn computers, again!), a paradigm shift from a material worldview to a consciousness-based worldview. This makes a great deal of sense – after all:

  • What is consciousness, if not information and energy that has become alive with self-referral? In other words, consciousness is information that responds to feedback, which is also information.

This self-referred information, if applied to “what matters”, supports the process of “consciousness” becoming “intelligence” – and even more LEARNing.


This, in essence, is what we teachers call “reflective savvy”:

– the very process of what we all do to improve what we do with what we know and understand about LEARNing and TEACHing and adapt or transform ourselves as educators…yes, I know – a mouthful!


Being a great TEACHer in the 21st Century, to go back to Marcy Shankman and Scott Allen, is not just about the “tech” – it is not even just about LEARNing and TEACHing practice in the classroom (“virtual” or not). Though, I have to admit, the whole idea of LEARNacy is probably on a par with these:

It’s essentially about exercising our Emotional Literacy “muscle” – knowing and understanding more about our SELF, our OTHERS and our CONTEXT…and being “savvy” on the INTRAPERSONAL, INTERPERSONAL and ENVIRONMENTAL levels, too.

And…how we critically apply this knowledge to all our EDU understandings:


So, how should we exercise this muscle – to make it more emotionally intelligent and make ourselves more emotionally literate?


A while back, I tried to develop a “12-Step Plan” to help teachers set up their own D-I-Y professional development process (if their schools were not helping them out as much as they should).

I thought I’d try the same for Emotional Literacy:

STEP 1 – Read, learn and discuss more about emotional intelligence and conscious leadership (book learnin’ be good – sharing be better)!

STEP 2 – Know thyself (and know “others” and “context” more)! This needs a couple more steps…

STEP 3 – Try to become more aware of your own “emotional style”. Ask yourself – What do I do in more emotional situations? How do I try to avoid discomfort? What do I know about the emotions of those I work with (and how do I know this)? What role do emotions play in my institution (and how do I know this)?

STEP 4 – Get to know yourself better by trying out a few of the many EQ assessment tools you can find nowadays – to understand your strengths and “soft spots” a bit more. Be careful – there is a lot of “rubbish” on the web!

STEP 5 – Focus on your own “listening skills” as a priority – listen in to others (and yourself) and see what lessons you can learn from feelings and emotions. And, remember “listening is often the best way to get your point across”!

STEP 6 – Be the change you want to see in your leadership style (OK – slight modification on what Gandhi told us) and work to increase positive feedback to yourself (and those around you) and increase your appreciation of others (try counting how many times you say “thank you” – each day)!

STEP 7 – Just do it! 

STEP 8 – Start small, begin slowly and focus on doing a few things “differently” and “well” (Rome was not built in a day…)!

STEP 9 – Don’t use technology – remember what we said; the people “stuff” (and LEARNing) is not about the hardware, the software, or the webware…it’s the headware, heartware and careware!

STEP 10 – If in doubt (and you have some “spare cash”), try attending a programme on EQ (but watch out for “EQ sharks” – those buggers that read-a-book and tell-the-world). Hey, if you can do it (and we do not do this enough in education, at all) – get yourself a “coach” (but remember – you get what you pay for)!

STEP 11 – Remember “best practice” is seldom ever enough (and the attitude of “fake-it-till-you-make-it” is quickly sussed out by others) – it is, more often than not, about somebody else’s solution to somebody else’s problem. Surely, it’s better to heed what Covey tells us about the “end” and “bearing it in mind” – and look for “Next Practice” in ourselves! 

STEP 12 – Always my favourite – remember: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference…

Hey, I’m getting better at this “12-step thing”!


But, then again, I’m sure you have some other ideas!


In Educational Leadership, Our Schools, Our Universities on 25/09/2011 at 10:54 am

I guess I really have to get round to writing some of these “Dummies-Guides” I have been talking about – but somehow I think that Wiley & Sons might not think I am their “type” of author…

Till then…another DVD Box-Set!

I’m actually doing these as a way to summarise a lot of the posts we have been putting up over the months (mostly for new “bloggers” – guys, just hit the “red links” below to take you too the posts)…

This time its allthingsleadership!


Sadly, many of our understandings of allthingsleadership are rooted in images of war, sufferring and conflict…and of the military “heroes” that step up and save the day. This is common in nearly culture on the planet!


The business community are especially “fond” of this conceptualisation:


Hey, if the business community can do it – so can we:


Mmmmmm…doesn’t quite “fit”, does it?


It’s probably a good idea to ask ourselves a few questions about where we are with Educational Leadership right now. In this post we draw on the ideas of Tom Peters (the “man” – in the business community) – and tweak them a “little” to better suit the way we “do business” in education:

One our very earliest post was very well received – seems it touched a nerve for many of you. It raises the issue of what type of educational leadership we need for the 21st Century – and the type of organisational culture we need to be co-creating for the future:

We also did this one in Turkish, too:


Building on this…we thought we’d take a quick look at some of the principles that should perhaps be guiding how we think and act as educational leaders – and what perhaps our foundation capstones need to look like:

Again, in Turkish…for those of you that would prefer:

These posts also touch on the importance of “habits” – so how could we not do more on “Mr. 7 Habits” himself:


We also have a lot of educational-wannabesthose “using” education for purposes that are far removed from allthingslearning – we need to ask if we need these “leaders” at all;

And, what we can do when we confront people like this:


My love of TV shows also got the better of me and I looked at whether Tony Soprano could add anything to our knowledge base (turns out he can):


We’ve also tried to show the types of leadership Turkish educators are showing in our “Çay ve Simit Interview” series:


As well as examples of the leadership shown by their learners:

We’ll have more of these – coming to a DVD store near you soon!

Imagineering the 21st Century Teacher…the PREQUEL!

In Classroom Teaching, Our Schools, Our Universities, Teacher Training on 23/09/2011 at 1:39 pm

After my last post on Imagineering the 21st Century Teacher, I got a lot of questions – mostly asking:

“What exactly is Educational Literacy”?

Pretty reasonable question, actually!


In a nutshell:

Educational Literacy (EdL) is all about the capacity of an individual to make a “real difference” to the lives of others – through learning and education.

In a way, Educational Literacy (let’s stick with the abbreviationEdL) is something that should concern everyone on the planet. Any parent wishing to help his or her child make “wise” decisions about schools, colleges or university – needs to have EdL. Any teacher walking into a classroom (for the “first” or the “50,000th” time) needs to have a lot of EdL, if she wants to be truly effective.

EdL is something parentsstudentsteacherseducational administrators or anyone involved or interested in the world of learning (including, dare I say, media representatives, publishers and politicians)must have!

In the case of teachers, EdL is more than the teaching-related knowledge and skills required to manage a classroom, present content and practice teaching points – that is known as Pedagogic Literacy. It touches on a teacher’s beliefs and values, the way she interacts with her learners and the extent to which she reflects on her own practice – to grow professionally and create even “better” learning opportunities for those around her.

As such, EdL is a multi-dimensional construct – a true “multiple literacy”. It is not simply the product of adding to “a stack of facts and figures” or throwing more tools into “a bag o’ tricks” – it is experienced and lived through the synaptic-type interrelationships between a number of Literacies (and Fluencies)…

  • EdL is a “talent” – a talent that is both “learned” and “learnable”.
  • EdL is an “ability set” – an ability set that is both “rational” and “emotional”.
  • EdL is a “passion” – a passion that drives improvement, progress and transformation!

EdL is also something that many people do not possessand this is what lies at the heart of many of the challenges we face in education.

For example:

  • Parents that tell teachers that their job is to “create” an engineer or doctor out of “Little Mehmet” – have low levels of EdL…sorry mum (and dad)!
  • Students that “blame” their failure on a given exam or the “academic clubs” that manipulate exam cut-offs – have low levels of EdL…sorry guys, time to take some responsibility (unless, that is, their educators also happen to have low levels of “Assessment Literacy”)!
  • Lecturers and teachers that do not even bother to learn the names of their students or “care” what these students “bring” to the classroom – have low levels of EdL…no apologies required here!
  • Educational Managers (up to and including Principals and Rectors) who value their “seat” more than the learning of their learners and still fail to see the importance of “walking-the-talk” – have low levels of EdL…guys, just move aside (the 21stCentury is here)!
  • Schools that live off the “fat” (or prestige) of the “past” or try to “fake-it-till-they-make-it” – have amazingly low levels of EdL…time to “get real” and evidence what you say you are!
  • Media representatives that report the “league tables” without helping students and their parents to ask the right questions about how the “rankings” were carried out – have no EdL wotsoever…come on, guys – earn your pay-cheques!
  • Publishers who tell educators/teacher-trainers to put on a “show” and not bother with all that “learning stuff” – fail the “EdL test” totally…you millionaires, time to pay back a slice of those profits you’ve been raking in!
  • Politicians…Mmmmm…hey, who the hell said it was possible to “save every soul”!

You get the idea!


EdL is essentially “realized” (and developed or learned) through the application of Critical Literacy to allthingseducationcritical reflection as applied to learning and teaching.

However, because of the very nature of both learning and teaching, EdL has a powerful emotional component. EdL appreciates that education and learning are fundamentally “emotional experiences” that require Emotional Intelligence (or EQ) is also brought to bear on matters of learning and teaching.

This is why learning and teaching professionals need to exhibit high levels of Emotional Literacy:

  • Emotional sensitivity
  • Emotional memory
  • Emotional problem-solving ability
  • Emotional learning ability

and, to borrow from Gardner:

  • “Intrapersonal Intelligence”
  • “Interpersonal Intelligence”

It’s funny how little we “pay” teachers – considering the job requirements!


EdL thus describes what an individual (especially educators) “thinks” or “knows” about education, learning and teaching, what s/he “does” with what s/he knows and also what s/he does to “improve” what s/he knows, does and feels in regard to allthingseducation.

EdL also respects the role of the ” professional teacher” – and what an “effective” teacher can do with what s/he can do with what s/he knows – as such, Pedagogic Literacy is also a focus of its attention, as is Curriculum Literacy and Assessment Literacy.

The problem is, taking Assessment Literacy as an example:

Assessment Literacy is perhaps the best-known of the components that make up EdLwell, in educational reading circles at least. It has been described in the following ways:

Assessment literacy is present when a person possesses the assessment-related knowledge and skills needed for the competent performance of that person’s responsibilities. 

W. James Popham (2009)

Assessment literate educators come to any assessment knowing what they are assessing, why they are doing so, how best to assess the achievement of interest, how to generate sound samples of performance, what can go wrong, and how to prevent these problems before they occur.

Stiggins (1995) – Assessment Literacy for the 21st Century


Using the questions we looked at for Learning Literacy, an educator could critically reflect on his own literacy in this area by asking:

Many do – many do not! Most are not given the opportunity to improve on what they cannot do with what they do not know!


OK – so what do we have, now?

  • Critical Literacy – CHECK!
  • Learning Literacy – CHECK!
  • Emotional Literacy – CHECK!
  • Pedagogic Literacy – CHECK!
  • Assessment Literacy – CHECK!


Anything else? Mmmmmmmmm….

My thanks to my dearest “editor” – you know who you is!

Also, to the HLU, Testing, Curriculum and Training Teams at AU-SFL for inspiring me to get this down on paper….or, was that “on screen”? More “badtime reading” for you guys!

Back to School – Can we make our LEARNers “smarter”?

In Our Schools, The Paradigm Debate on 11/09/2011 at 11:52 am

Perhaps the better question is: 

  • Can we REALLY help ourselves get “smarter” – first? 

After all – most us teachers are “oldies” – and we all know that “oldies” can’t do much allthingslearning!



Let me tell you a story!


I mentioned my “son”, Dexter, in my post the other day – he’s around 12 months old, now. A wonderful, little ball of joy – cute as hell, fun to play with but not the most cerebral of companions.

Yes, my “son” is a bit dumb!

Or not…


We take good care of him – he knows. We love him to bits – he returns this. We teach him stuff – he learns well. Almost everything – except not to jump over our friends when they come to visit “him” (he actually believes that all our house guests come for him – and the Dog Whisperer told us this so it “must be true”).

At around the age of six months – he started to come on in leaps and bounds – he suddenly became so much more emotionally and socially intelligent. It was clear that he had started to miss his mummy and daddy when they were not around and clearly wanted to spend as much time as possible with them (we’re pretty OK parents).

One night we tried to put him to bed. This usually involves rubbing his tummy on his favourite fluffy carpet, settling him down and saying “nite, nite Dex, sleep well – see you tomorrow”. That night it did not work!

That night he clearly had not had enough time with mummy and daddy – he refused to walk into the kitchen and continued to jump around in the hallway. He simply refused to go to bed – remember, my wife and I have not looked after a “toddler” for 19-20 years so we were a bit flummoxed!

We tried to entice him into the kitchen – even used his favourite doggy treats (never says “no” to one of these). After 5 minutes of this, he got “bored” of our feeble attempts at Jedi mind-tricks and strolled to the entrance of our bedroom door – and waited for us to “join” him (with the cutest look on his face)!

The rest is history – he now “sleeps” with us!


Now, if an American Cocker can come so far in a few months – try telling me that every single human being on the planet (who are all “engineered” for learning) cannot do the same!

For years, we were told that “intelligence” was fixed – and because the guys that were saying this were so much smarter than us, we believed them. Then we discovered the “brain” – literally! We created some new “toys” that allowed us to really look into that wonderful lump of grey matter that decides how much learning is “doable”. Thank God for neuro-scientists – they have finally brought us out of the “learning Dark Age”!

OK, we are not all the way there – and I am not sure if I really want hundreds of tiny Stuart Littles running around – but they have truly opened our eyes.


The supporters of “neural intelligence theory” pulled off one of the biggest cons of the 20th Century. These cognitive psychologists actually tricked us into thinking that IQ tests were “good” – even worse, that these “scientific tools” were the most reliable way to “weigh and measure” our kids!

Companies made millions selling these tools to us, consultants and educational advisors found innovative ways to bring them into almost every facet of human activity – they all contributed to the creation of the “examocracies” we have in place around the world.

The examocracies we did not vote for – but determine who “wins” and who “fails” into today’s world.

OK, I know that many of you will come back and tell me, “Tony, but so many educational and organisational psychologists have proved that IQ scores are really good predictors of tertiary-level achievement and job performance”.

True. And we also know that the predictive power of IQ is higher for “complex” activities than for “simple” ones. 

But, what about if we question the types of achievement we expect at universities and the types of performance we are expected to show in our jobs – and how happy we are with these things. 


Howard Gardner, whether you agree with everything he says of not (or more importantly what others say he says), has been telling us for years that “real intelligence” is not monolithic, it is not fixed, and it certainly is not only “neural”. 

Intelligence is fluid, malleable and expansive – like life! 

Human beings have a wonderful capacity to adapt to new and complex situations and we have the potential to create new ways of thinking – when we are “allowed” and “encouraged” to… 

And, we have different types of “smarts”. 


David Perkins, a senior researcher at Harvard, also introduced us to concepts behind “experiential” and “reflective” intelligence – and was one of the first to let us in on a pretty important “dirty little secret”: people can learn to think and act much more intelligently.

He tells us:

“Experiential intelligence particularly supports day-to-day expert thinking in a domain. Experiential intelligence also particularly supports coping with recurrent everyday situations. Reflective intelligence particularly supports coping with novelty. Reflective intelligence also particularly supports thinking contrary to certain natural trends.” 

Sounds a lot like the life we all have today! And, also shows the need for greater levels of “creativity” in all we do.


In an earlier guest-blogger postIan Jukes, talked about how “school smarts” were getting in the way of “street smarts” – I would wager that conventional “teaching smarts” have a lot to do with the lack of “learning smarts” we are seeing in our schools, colleges and universities. IMHO… 

Bill Lucas and Guy Claxton have taken a closer (and recent) look at how these ideas are impacting education. For them, how people (especially teachers and educators) think about learning depends on how they conceptualise “intelligence”.

We all know that our own “teaching” reflects our own underlying assumptions about what kinds of “smarts” are worth having – and whether we pigeon-hole students in terms of what we think are their “fixed abilities” or whether we truly see our role as a “talent development expert” for every single student.


I believe that every single teacher needs to ask themselves the question I posed in this posting – discover what they really believe about “intelligence” and then do something about it. Schools, colleges and universities need to also look at the implications of such new understandings on how they want “to do business”.

There are some that may say that there is more than a grain of truth in the “learnable intelligence debate” (and there is still a raging debate) – but point out that “age” is the killer as we all become “less adaptable” as we get older. 

I disagree – my wife took me on when I was a foolish young teacher with no future. I’m glad she did – she took me on for my “potential” (actually, I think most women do this when they get married – they are all “natural” talent development experts).

She would probably say I am a lot smarter than I was 25 years ago – I’m guessing she would say I am also smarter than I was last year. It is not only Dexter that has benefitted from contact with my wife. 

So, and coming back to our original question:

  • Can we make our LEARNERS “smarter”?

Of course, we can!

But, first we have to “believe” it…


For those of interested in “bedtime reading”, take a look at my “library”Tony’s LEARNABLE INTELLIGENCE Library